Giving Compass' Take:

• As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, policymakers, both at the state and federal level, can consider these ideas to support families who need childcare during this time. 

• How can donors invest in helping vulnerable families? How can donors encourage or inform meaningful policy changes aimed at promoting accessible childcare options? 

• Read how to support a community's equitable recovery through childcare investment. 

Families’ child care decisions vary based on their budgets, needs, constraints, and preferences. But COVID-19 has upended all these variables and has affected the supply of child care many families relied on before the pandemic. To support working parents as they balance the need to financially support their families with the desire to protect their children’s health, safety, and development, policymakers should consider ways to ensure families have access to a sufficient supply of child care options to meet their changing needs.

Returning to pre-pandemic child care arrangements is not be feasible for all families. Colleagues at the University of Oregon reported that lower-income families were more uncertain than higher-income families about their ability to return to their pre-pandemic child care arrangements as the economy reopens, with almost half (48 percent) of lower-income households reporting that they either couldn’t return or were uncertain they could, compared with only a quarter of higher-income households.

These data come from a survey from the University of Oregon’s Center on Translational Neuroscience. The Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development (RAPID) - Early Childhood Survey was designed to continuously gather information regarding the needs, health-promoting behaviors, and well-being of families with young children during the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.

As the pandemic continues, however, it appears there may be a shift in the kinds of care parents are using if they are using any nonparental care. Specifically, emerging reports suggest some families may be moving from center- to home-based programs.

To ensure families can access the child care they need to work and ensure their children’s healthy development, federal and state policymakers should focus on supporting parents’ access to child care assistance and a robust supply of care options.

  • Help families pay for care
  • Ensure child care subsidies can go to the full range of child care settings
  • Invest in a robust supply of child care options across setting types

Read the full article about ensuring childcare during COVID-19 by Gina Adams at Urban Institute.