Demanding Change

March 07, 2022

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The past two years have been particularly hard on families who need child care and those who provide this critical service. For many families in the U.S., child care is more unaffordable and harder to access than ever. For child care providers, keeping their programs open and adequately staffed is a constant struggle. Our child care system has reached a breaking point due to decades of underfunding and the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, Child Care Aware(R) of America released a report that examined the current child care system in detail. Demanding Change: Repairing our Child Care System analyzes child care supply, demand, affordability and the child care workforce through updated data and case studies.  

This report reveals several troubling findings about the current state of the child care system in the U.S.: 

  • From December 2019 to March 2021, nearly 16,000 child care programs permanently closed across the country. This translates into 8,889 child care centers and 6,957 family child care programs lost. 
  • Nationally, the average price of child care is $10,174. This comprises 10% of median income for a married-couple household and 36% of median income for a single parent with children. 
  • In 2020, the rise of child care prices outpaced inflation by nearly 4%. With inflation continuing to diminish families’ spending power, we will monitor how child care price increases compare to other price increases. 
  • Our analysis of RAPID-CC survey comments found that child care professionals feel disrespected, exhausted and stressed. Many are pleading for more funding to help them recruit staff and stay in business.  

Demanding Change also discusses timely topics related to the current child care crisis, including school-age child care, the importance of quality in child care programs and the growing exodus of women from the workforce due to lack of access to child care. Our Demand chapter features a case study where we used Google Analytics to examine child care searches in three states. We also worked with the New America Foundation to examine the differences between reimbursing subsidy providers by enrollment versus by attendance in Massachusetts and Southern California. Finally, we updated our Appendices, which show how states compare to one another in terms of child care affordability. 

CCAoA believes that comprehensive policy change and public investment is needed to provide sustainable solutions to truly rebuild the child care system.  Long-term investments, like the child care and early learning provisions in the Build Back Better Act, would not only assist nearly every family with young children with child care in the immediate term but would transform the child care industry to one that is affordable, accessible and equitable in the long term. Learn more about the Build Back Better Act here 

Every family deserves to have access to high-quality, equitable, affordable child care. If you would like to help make this vision a reality, visit our advocacy website to learn how you can get involved in the fight for comprehensive policy change to rebuild the child care system. On this page, you can contact your Members of Congress , find resources to support your advocacy , and identify new opportunities to make your voice heard. 

Check out our report and its companion resources here

Topics: Policy & Advocacy

Kristina Haynie

Written by Kristina Haynie

Kristina Haynie is the Senior Data Analyst at Child Care Aware of America. She has over 10 years of experience in research and data analysis. Her research work has primarily focused on issues such as child welfare, child mental health, and early care and education.