COVID-19 has created an acute child care crisis for American families, providers, and businesses, and time is running out to save the industry.
Will you contact your members of Congress and urge them to pass a pandemic relief bill that includes enough funding to keep child care providers afloat through the recovery?
Access to affordable, and high-quality child care is not only critical to a child’s healthy development, but it is also the backbone of the American economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the indispensable role child care plays in the lives of working families. Too often, child care has been the determining factor when parents—particularly mothers—have had to drop out of the workforce amid this pandemic. With reduced revenue from limited enrollment—down an average of 67 percent compared to pre-COVID levels—and skyrocketing operating expenses related to important but costly health and safety standards—a 47 percent increase—child care providers are struggling to stay afloat. Even in a normal economy, most child care providers operate on thin margins, so these extraordinary circumstances could result in a permanent loss of nearly 4.5 million child care slots based on predicted closure rates across the country. This threatens the livelihoods of millions of providers across the country—and the working parents who rely on them.
Even before COVID-19, half of Americans were living in a child care desert, an area that either has no child care providers or has so few that there are more than three children for every available slot. Now, 70 percent of parents report that their child care programs are closed or are operating at reduced capacity, and 44 percent of parents found that the lack of child care resources was a barrier to remote or in-person work.
Our nation’s long-term wellbeing depends on a child care system that works for both the families who need it and the hard-working professionals who care for America’s youngest learners.
Support and understanding have been consistent over the years: Americans see the value in high-quality early learning and care, and they want more choices and greater access to these opportunities. In fact, recent polling reveals that the COVID-19 crisis has reinforced voter support for policies supporting access to affordable, high-quality child care. Our latest national poll found that nearly 4 in 5 voters say the pandemic has revealed how essential it is that we build a child care system that makes care available and affordable to all families who need it. The overwhelming voter support for increased investment in child care and dedicated relief to ensure child care providers can remain open means that publicly supporting early learning and care remains a rare unifying issue that comes with little political downside.
The good news is that there is overwhelming agreement among Democrats and Republicans that child care is foundational to America’s recovery. In fact, child care relief was included in every recovery bill or stimulus proposal thus far.
Lack of Action
With every day that passes without action from Congress, the situation becomes worse for child care providers and the families who rely on them. The CARES Act passed earlier this year included a small amount of funding aimed at providing temporary relief to child care providers. However, those sources of funding are all but dried up and the situation has only gotten worse for child care facilities since. Congressional leaders from both parties, along with the White House, have all put forth plans that include emergency funding for child care, all of which failed to receive final approval.
Recovery Funds Are Needed
Until a deal is reached on a recovery package, providers will be forced to shut down their businesses for good, depleting the national supply of child care. Lack of action will disproportionately impact working mothers, who support their families’ financial security as breadwinners and contribute to the size of the overall economy. As we move through the various phases of recovery and reopening the economy, no industry will be able to restart if the child care industry collapses and a big portion of the labor force no longer has access to reliable, high-quality child care they depend on to be able to go to work.
Email or your members of Congress and urge them to ensure Congress passes a pandemic recovery bill that provides emergency relief funding to keep the child care industry afloat.