Child care

Because children’s experiences in the first five years of life establish the foundation for ongoing learning and progress, high-quality early care and education for all children is critical. Unfortunately, the American system for the provision of early care and education is deeply fragmented and severely under-resourced, which results in vastly uneven quality of and access to services. Quality child care access and affordability is a particular hardship for low- and moderate-income families, exacerbating inequities that can then persist for generations. That is why policymakers at every level of government need to prioritize investments in the child care system the same way they do infrastructure investments, because an effective child and early education system supports not just families but the economy and society overall.

At the same time, the United States lacks adequate national policies to support parents’ ability to remain in the labor force after having children, many parents—mostly mothers—drop out. This has important ramifications for their future work prospects, including their career path and earnings potential, which in turn have implications for family income levels, family well-being, and the economy as a whole. Lastly, it should not be overlooked that nearly 2 million adults, mostly women, are currently paid to provide early care and education services to more than 12 million children across the country. If these jobs were properly rewarded, they could be a desirable form of employment in every community. All of these challenges can be addressed with bold state, local, and federal investments in America’s children and families.

Publications

Care for Our Commonwealth: The Cost of Universal, Affordable, High-Quality Early Care & Education Across Massachusetts

Key Takeaways

  • Massachusetts families depend on early care & education (ECE) to promote healthy child development and so parents can go to work knowing their children are safe. However, our ECE sector faces many systemic challenges. Care is often unaffordable and teachers are chronically underpaid. These concerns have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • High-quality ECE—including strong curriculum and supportive teaching in classrooms, professional development, small class sizes, well-compensated teachers, and full-time schedules—has been widely linked to positive benefits for kids that can carry forward into elementary school and beyond. This includes exemplary programs in Massachusetts.
  • Existing public programs, such as Head Start, state ECE subsidies, and the preschool programs offered by school districts meet some of the need, currently enrolling 91,000 children and spending $1.27 billion in public funding annually.
  • The full cost of high-quality ECE would be just over $28,000 per child each year for ages 0-4 (infants, toddlers, and preschool children), nearly double the funding of existing programs.
  • Universal high-quality ECE in Massachusetts, with affordable capped fees of no more than 7% of income and free for low-income families, would cover a total of 288,000 kids with net new costs of $5.03 billion.
  • Affordable high-quality ECE would particularly benefit families of color and low-income families who may be struggling with the high cost of care. Increases in teacher pay, benefits, and working conditions, necessary for high-quality ECE would also benefit teachers in the ECE field.
  • Like the reform of K-12 school funding in Massachusetts, funding universal ECE could be phased in over several years, with initial priority for the most under-served communities.

Domestic Workers are Essential Workers: By the Numbers in New York

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, domestic workers have been placed under double pressure. Already underpaid, many domestic workers have lost their jobs, or lost hours on the job, putting them under added financial stress. Even when on the job, however, domestic workers find themselves under added physical and psychological stress, acting as essential workers during a pandemic at some risk to their own health as they protect the health of others. Domestic workers include house cleaners, nannies, and home care aides who care for people with disabilities or who are elderly or infirm.

What 2020 Revealed For Women (And How Recovery Can Happen)

Overall, the pandemic economy has not been kind to women, particularly women of color. Since March 2020, women have lost 5.4 million net jobs, nearly 1 million more than men. Service industries that tend to have higher concentrations of women workers, including women of color, were the hardest hit by the virus. Pre-pandemic, those jobs often paid less and offered fewer benefits—like health care or paid leave—that might have helped women better weather this particular crisis. Frankly, the pre-pandemic economy wasn’t particularly kind to women either, especially women of color and immigrant women who were more likely to work in these industries.

Enhanced child care funding makes life better for Alabama’s children and families

Maintenance of federal CCDBG funding at the 2018 level is critical for continued progress in the provision of child care for low- and moderate-income children in Alabama. Increased funding would allow Alabama to expand the number of children who receive assistance by increasing income eligibility to 85% of median family income. It also would allow Alabama to increase per-child subsidies to programs. And that would improve the incomes of child care teachers and the retention of well-qualified and educated teachers.