In addition to the proven benefits of early childhood education for children, access to affordable, reliable and high-quality early learning and child care opportunities provides working families with better job stability and overall economic security. Unfortunately, the need to access this critical support far outpaces their current capacity, and many families across the country cannot afford the cost of quality child care. In fact, the cost of quality child care is as high or higher than the cost of in-state college tuition in 28 states and the District of Columbia. 

Limited or inconsistent access to early learning and care causes parents to miss work, lowering household incomes and potentially leading to job loss. Many parents are unable to enter or return to the workforce at all due to a lack of affordable, reliable care for their children. Supporting families with the cost of quality preschool and child care will result in a more efficient and productive American workforce in both the short and long term.

Current research finds:

  1. Child care helps parents return to work and generate an additional $94,000 in lifetime earnings for mothers. 
  2. In 2020, 94% of parents adjusted their career path due to child care expenses, 42% reduced their work hours, 26% switched to another job and an additional 26% left the workforce altogether.
  3. Almost half of parents are absent from work at least once every six months due to child care issues.
  4. Early education helps parents stay employed and work more hours for longer periods, regardless of parents’ education level.
  5. Child care expenses consume a large share of low-income families’ budgets.
  6. A lack of child care causes businesses to lose an estimated $12.7 billion annually due to employee absenteeism.
  7. Working families who can’t access affordable child care lose $8.3 billion in wages annually.
  8. Access to stable, high-quality child care helps parents improve their labor productivity by increasing work hours, missing fewer work days and pursuing further education.
  9. High-quality child care that enables mothers to enter the labor market pays for itself through increases in family income.
  10. 74% of mothers and 66% of fathers have left work early, arrived late or been absent because child care fell through at the last minute.