During this crisis, local philanthropy has an essential role to play in bolstering a pillar of their local economies: child care. Two immediate ways they can do this: offer direct emergency funding paired with local advocacy and help providers navigate the hurdles to securing and gaining access to new public support.

Unfortunately, for many child care providers across the nation—especially those serving lower-income working families and communities of color—the COVID-19 pandemic is an existential crisis. Communities across the country could wake up to find that the essential organizations on which so many working families depend for safe, nurturing, developmentally supportive child care no longer exist, threatening these communities’ ability both to educate young children and restart their economies. Given the high stakes and the urgency of the situation, funders can provide local support in two key ways: providing direct emergency support paired with local advocacy over the next few weeks or months, and helping child care providers navigate hurdles and gain access to new public support.

The effects of the pandemic on the child care system will perpetuate racial inequities nationally and locally. Home-based child care, which is often the best choice for families in low-income communities looking for flexible, affordable, conveniently located, and culturally and linguistically aligned providers, is particularly at risk financially. Chances are high that many of the providers who run these businesses (who are more likely to be women of color) will permanently close their doors, with devastating effects on their livelihoods and families in their communities. It is difficult to imagine what will arrive in their place—and how far in the future that will be. As such, supporting child care providers is an essential pillar of equitable COVID-19 recovery efforts and longer-term efforts to build racial equity in communities.

In the past few decades, philanthropic support has played a critical role in demonstrating what works and encouraging government at all levels to make investments in early learning and care for children from birth to five that are high-quality and focused on the populations facing the biggest barriers to access. Today, some funders are investing in national efforts to support our youngest children and their families in the COVID-19 response. However, if we are to turn the tide in the coming weeks, philanthropy in every community in our nation must make intentional investments in local child care in two ways.

  1. Meet child care providers’ immediate needs while raising awareness about the child care crisis
  2. Guide child care providers past hurdles to federal, state, and local government funding

Read the full article about investing in childcare by Katherine Kaufmann, Shannon Rudisill, and Elise Tosun at The Bridgespan Group.