Child care in the US is more expensive than college in most places, relatively low quality, and in some cases completely unavailable to parents. During World War II, when women needed to work in the factories, our country found a way to support both the costs of the war and the costs of caring for young children. Quality care was available at the equivalent of $10 in today’s dollars for up to twelve hours of care. Many parents are kept out of the workforce because there are no affordable options; affecting our productivity as a nation. As a starting point, what can we do to help us to get back to where we were in the 1940s?
A recent article in Elle Magazine captures the history, the current state, and the opportunities looking forward. It may surprise you to learn that child care was possibly among the first signals of the political rift that has developed in our country but is now an area where there is bipartisan support.
In the 1940s quality care was available in 49 of 50 states, at the equivalent of $10 in today’s dollars for up to twelve hours of care; is it possible to go back to that?”
Ready to take Action?
If you are interested in giving to address this issue, one of the best-value uses of your time is to tour an Educare facility. Developed by the Ounce of Prevention Fund and serving poor children and families, the Educare model is the gold standard for the field and brings to life the dream of what is possible in infant and toddler care. Educare has been rigorously evaluated and consistently demonstrates positive short and longer-term results for children and families.
You also can support the advocacy efforts of organizations such as Child Care Aware, the Alliance for Early Success, and the First Five Years Fund that are working toward policy change at the state and federal levels. Other organizations, such as the Reinvestment Fund and community development financial institutions, have started to address the financing needs of child care providers, raising and lending capital at low-interest rates to help build more facilities and expand existing ones.
Connect with others to augment your impact
For donors who want to work locally, you can connect with a vibrant network in almost any community working on child care issues. Ask your local community foundation or United Way who is leading on child care issues in your community. At the local level, Chambers of Commerce and business leaders, who cannot hire and retain qualified employees because of the child care barrier, are taking an active role towards making progress on providing accessible, quality care for infants and young children.
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Our society and competitiveness as a nation pay the cost when parents cannot afford to work, and when children suffer and stagnate in low-quality care. There are so many ways we can help; let’s go back to what we had in the 1940’s to get to a brighter future!
Stephanie Fuerstner Gillis is a Strategy Advisor for Giving Compass and Senior Advisor for the Impact Driven Philanthropy Initiative at the Raikes Foundation
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If you are looking for opportunities to take action and give money to Early Childhood Education, here are some Giving Funds, Charitable Organizations and Projects aggregated by Giving Compass where you can take immediate action.