America needs more child care options.

That simple fact has long been a reality for millions of families that cannot access quality care within their means, and it has been heightened throughout the pandemic, as many child care centers faced economic collapse.

As a result, nearly half of parents answering a recent child care survey say it is more difficult to find child care now than it was a year ago, while another 72 percent say child care has also become more expensive. More than 42 percent have reduced their work hours to better manage the cost, and 26 percent have left the workforce entirely—a worrisome trend when employers are so eager to bring workers back to support recovery.

The challenges impact people in every state, but they are particularly acute for families with low-to-moderate incomes and those living in small towns, rural communities and communities of color—all of which already faced a significant shortfall of affordable care before the pandemic.

From the legislative perspective, Congress is considering several measures that could shore up our child care infrastructure. The most promising include dedicated funding for facilities development, support for intermediaries to provide technical assistance to providers, and resources to help communities assess their child care capacity and needs.

We are hopeful about that growing federal commitment. In the meantime, while the industry anxiously awaits those new resources, there are four ways that philanthropy and CDFIs can work together, right now, to help providers prepare:

  • Support development of state or community plans.
  • Seed pre-development activities for providers in high-need communities.
  • Fund on-the-ground technical assistance so providers can effectively use the new dollars.
  • Provide pools of low-cost capital that can help stretch federal funding.

Read the full article about investing in early child care by Cindy Larson at lisc.