Child care and early learning programs, at their core, play a critical role in the development of young children. They operate at a critical nexus – the intersection of economic development, caregiving and educational systems – offering opportunities to children, families, women, employers and regional economies. After years of impassioned federal policy advocacy, I probably recite the benefits of quality care in my sleep:

So why are families still struggling to find safe, affordable, quality care in appropriate spaces? And why are child care systems poised to plunge into utter chaos within two years when COVID resources expire? Most important of all, what can be done to address these issues? 

The full answers to these questions require an analysis of our country’s child care financing blind spot—the historic, persistent public underfunding of the sector. That blind spot is both founded in and exacerbated by the racial and gender discrimination that continues to plant obstacles in the way of child care business owners; the lack of capital made available to the sector by traditional financial institutions; and our society’s insidious devaluation of children, women, and care giving.

But a more immediate answer is that the sizable, long-promised and widely-promoted federal investment in child care – which includes resources for facilities – has not materialized. And COVID recovery resources, which have only begun to scratch the surface of need, come to an abrupt end in 2024 (an estimated $48 billion funding cliff). Families, providers, and communities are trapped in a seemingly endless loop of uncertainty and instability.

So how do we even begin to address the child care blind spot? The task is large but not insurmountable. We can start with some commonsense approaches.

Read the full article about early childcare by Nicole Barcliff at LISC.