The COVID-19 pandemic has brought child care challenges to the forefront of families, businesses and legislatures minds. In a recent series of state-specific surveys completed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, referred to as the Untapped Potential economic impact reports, it was found that child care issues resulted in anywhere from $479 million to $3.47 billion in estimated annual losses for state economies. To find innovative solutions, we must build innovative partnerships. State and local chambers and Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) can combine their respective expertise to implement child care solutions that are specific to the needs of their communities.
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In the same way that the pandemic exacerbated the cracks in our child care system, COVID-19 also exacerbated the inequities that exist in our country and for children living in poverty. Data from the Children’s Defense Fund shows that children are the poorest age group in America, with nearly 1 in 6 children, about 11.9 million, living in poverty in 2018. Additionally, the youngest children tend to be the poorest and 73% of children living in poverty are children of color.
The good news is that change is coming. Earlier this month, Congress passed and the President signed into law the American Rescue Plan (ARP), a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.
As the COVID-19 pandemic inundated the child care system, Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) received helpful funds from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to support and provide relief to Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) member organizations across the country. In the summer and fall of 2020, CCAoA used the funds to provide CCR&Rs with resources to meet pressing needs within their communities.
At Child Care Aware® of America, we have seen child care become front page news. We have spoken with families, like the Aronoffs, struggling to access child care as providers close their doors. We have listened to providers, like Shaun Linton in Newark, Ohio, whose center has taken extraordinary measures to continue operating safely, despite a reduction in income.
What we have heard and continue to hear from providers and families is their demands for change. The time is ripe for us to make even bigger strides than previously imagined to achieve a more equitable, affordable and high-quality child care system. As we launch into the new year, I am excited to share with you how we plan to accomplish this.
Child care is not only crucial for the development of young children, but also essential for the millions of working parents with young children. Parents rely on child care to help them enter, re-enter or remain in the workforce, but access to affordable, quality child care is often a significant barrier for many. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, families are experiencing additional challenges in finding, maintaining and affording child care that meets their needs.
As we take stock of this year-like-no-other, Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) sees a glimmer of hope in all of the destruction and reflection wrought by COVID-19 and yet another racial reckoning for our nation. This glimmer of hope is the chance to completely rebuild our child care system. Today, CCAoA releases bold new ideas to help policymakers, advocates, parents, providers and employers create an equitable, transformed child care system in 2021 and beyond.