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Survey Sheds Light on What Parents and Child Care Providers Want Elected Officials to Know

Resource July 3, 2024

The RAPID Survey Project recently released the RAPID 4th Anniversary Special Report: What parents of young children and child care providers want elected officials to know.

RAPID is a national survey that the Center on Early Childhood at Stanford University has been conducting monthly since April 2020 to understand how the pandemic impacted families with young children. RAPID asked nearly 30,000 child care providers and parents of children under the age of six the following open-ended question: What would you like your elected officials or other policymakers to know about how you and your family are doing and what you need during this time? 

They found that child care is a top concern across all demographics, family structures, and income levels. High-quality child care fosters growth and learning for children while enabling caregivers to work and contribute to the economy. The lack of affordable child care forces parents to make difficult tradeoffs. Both parents and child care providers want elected officials to provide more child care support (such as subsidies, increased pay, provider assistance) to help meet escalating costs. RAPID reports that the need for more government support for child care is a topic that parents have raised with increasing frequency since November 2020. Surveyed providers called for more public funding because they recognize that families cannot afford to pay more for child care. 

The survey also found that the accessibility and affordability of essentials like healthcare and housing were among people’s top concerns. These concerns rose in 2022, corresponding with the end of COVID-era family support policies and the rising cost of living. Parents shared that they want elected officials to reinstate federal assistance programs that were adopted during the pandemic to support families, such as the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which proved to be an effective way to lift families out of poverty. When relief programs were in place, parents of young children reported lower rates of overall hardship. Parents expressed frustration and skepticism around whether they believe elected officials can sustain family support policies.

Parents and child care providers also want elected officials to know that child care providers are undercompensated. Their median wage is only $14.60 per hour, or roughly $30,370 per year, which puts many child care providers with families at or below the poverty line. High-quality child care options cannot be maintained if educators are not compensated appropriately for the important and demanding work they do.

The RAPID Survey Project concluded that parents and child care providers want elected officials to know that families are struggling, and the time to act is now. Improving the accessibility and affordability of high-quality child care can be achieved through increased government investment, and sustained policies aimed at improving families’ health and well-being would advance child development. It is critical that elected officials enact change to support families, early learners, and child care providers.

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