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

The Economic Benefits of High-Quality Early Care

All children should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. At the same time, parents should be able to go to work with the comfort that their children are safe, nurtured, and learning. For many families, child care is a crucial component of this vision.

Early care and education programs have proven to be the most effective policies for improving the lifelong outcomes for children. Attending high-quality early care programs leads to higher educational achievement in later years while reducing expensive social ills, like chronic health problems or crime. These improved outcomes translate to a direct positive impact on the economy as a whole in the form of increased wages and productivity, and lower spending on social services.

When Work is Not Enough: Toward Better Policy to Support Wisconsin’s Working Families

  • May 11, 2017
  • COWS
  • Laura Dresser, Javier Rodriguez, and Mel Meder.

In Wisconsin, policy makers seem to increasingly assume that work, and work alone, can provide a decent standard of living. However, working families continue to face a slew of challenges – low wages, inadequate benefits, insufficient hours – generated by the very jobs that are supposed to be the answer. This report highlights the disconnect between state policies and the realities of Wisconsin families working in jobs at or near the poverty line.

Oregon Care Economy: The Case for Public Care Investment

  • February 1, 2017
  • COWS
  • Laura Dresser, Mary C. King, and Raahi Reddy.

Oregon’s current care economy is vast and largely invisible. Currently underinvested, it creates and exacerbates poverty and inequality. We are missing the opportunity to invest adequately in the care economy in order to build a stronger, more inclusive economy and better life for us all. This report seeks to bring care work into view.