Throughout the pandemic, our communities saw the loss of a significant number of child care facilities, as public health actions, falling enrollment, and rising safety costs all took their toll. Even with emergency grants and loans to help cover losses, thousands of child care businesses closed—exacerbating challenges that already existed, of availability and affordability for working families.

Now that the worst of the pandemic seems to have abated, at least for the moment, it’s worth asking: what comes next for child care? What is needed to help owners pivot from relief to recovery, resilience, and, ultimately, growth?

To address those questions, we need solutions that are responsive to the needs of small businesses in the child care sector. An estimated 90 percent of these enterprises are owned by women, more than half of whom are women of color. And the data makes clear that women and minority entrepreneurs tend to have inequitable access to the capital, technical support and networking they need to grow.

In addition, history has proven that a lack of access to child care sets women back in their careers. It especially limits opportunity for Black women, who are more likely to struggle to find affordable, quality care than other women—and most impacted economically when they cannot.

Certainly, public policy has a critical role to play in supporting a stable system of child care. But the private sector is also stepping up to meet these challenges. This week, LISC kicks off a new grant program with Procter & Gamble (P&G) to support the growth of child care operators in three cities—Boston, Newark and Phoenix. The grants, along with technical support, will get urgently needed capital to child care providers that might not otherwise be able to access it—namely, those led by women of color that primarily serve families and children of color.

The support will be tailored to local needs, with funding for such things as technology upgrades, facility improvements, and professional services, including planning for improved or expanded space. We anticipate that the P&G/LISC partnership will support as many as 50 child care providers, as well as several business development organizations that will provide business training and technical services to them.

Read the full article about supporting childcare by Cindy Larson and Bevin Parker-Cerkez at LISC.