Childcare is essential. Now more than ever, families need safe, affordable, high-quality childcare to get our economy back on track.
What families need right now is changing, as are the demands on childcare centers as they work to meet new health requirements. We know the childcare system was in crisis before COVID-19 hit, and that has only become more true in recent months. Our first priority must be to support frontline workers, working families, employers and kids who need access as we re-open the economy. But we must leverage this crisis as an opportunity – to unify and transform this industry in a new era with the goal of universal early learning by 2030 through quality, accessible and affordable child care for ALL working families.
- Reduce inequalities and increase access. 63% of Washingtonians and 51% of people in the United States live in a childcare desert where there are either no childcare providers or 3 times as many children as licensed care spots. In Washington, 66% of Latino families, 63% of African American, and 67% of low-income families are living in areas without enough licensed childcare providers. Working families will find a way for their kids to be cared for while they’re at work, but by not investing in licensed spots, they may be driven to find care on the unlicensed grey market with no safety standards.
- Increase affordability. In 33 states and Washington, D.C., childcare costs more than college tuition at a state university and only 1 in every 6 low-income eligible children receive the assistance they need to access quality care. Building a workable marketplace will require a creative combination of private sector employer support and incentives for families.
- Support caregivers. Now is the time to invest in facilities and workers that are supporting the reopening of our economy – by allowing the workforce to work. We must compensate childcare workers fairly, offer a stimulus and reopening grants for providers to offset new COVID-19 requirements, and create career pathways and financial aid for caregivers seeking early learning degrees.
- Define quality. High quality childcare builds America two generations at a time. This will require a unifying framework and national minimum standards for knowledge and competencies, educator qualifications, industry standards and compensation that recognizes the professional nature and requirements of the industry.
- Cover the cost of quality. We must significantly expand the existing mandatory federal funding for Child Care Development Block Grant Fund to ensure it covers the cost of high-quality care, and creates short-term opportunities as we expand these care options.