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The 118th Congress: Opportunities for Child Care and Early Learning

News January 18, 2023

The 118th Congress has the opportunity to invest in America’s children, working families, and the economy through high-quality early childhood education. This resource book is an introduction to the foundational early learning and care programs that originate at the federal level and are funded by Congress. 

We hope these resources foster an interest in early learning and care and welcome questions and future discussions.

How Can Lawmakers Address Child Care Challenges for Families?

Every year, millions of children from all 50 states benefit from an array of federal early learning and care programs. These programs are critical to ensuring children from birth through age five have equitable access to affordable, comprehensive, high-quality care, and have consistently garnered broad bipartisan support from Congress, the White House, and voters for decades.  

Learn more about the role Congress plays in child care and early learning here. If you have follow-up questions on the materials or are interested in discussing a specific topic or policy, please feel free to contact our government affairs team.

Why Parents Can’t Find or Afford Child Care

Today, 26.8 million people — 16% of the U.S. workforce — rely on child care in order to do their jobs but the supply of quality child care has not kept up with the significant rise in demand over the years. Pre-pandemic, over 30% of Americans were living in a child care desert with only one available child care spot for every three children in need of care. 

As providers continue to operate under razor thin margins, too many families can’t afford the care they can find, putting many low- and middle-income families in the impossible position of being forced to choose between work and care. 

Click here to learn more about why our nation’s child care is not meeting the needs of parents, providers, or the economy.

Voters, Small Businesses Agree, Congress Must Act

Two national polls commissioned by the First Five Years Fund immediately following the 2022 midterm elections have found that voters and small business owners across the political spectrum overwhelmingly endorse the federal government taking action on child care. Among voters surveyed, the sentiment that federal funding for child care and early learning programs should be increased was shared across party lines—88% of Democrats, 70% of swing voters, and 61% of Republicans agree. One of the first national assessments of what Americans expect from Congress following Election Day, the surveys found voters and small business owners alike agree that the national shortage of affordable child care programs is doing significant harm to families’ finances, businesses’ bottom lines, and the U.S. economy broadly.

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