The Critical Work of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies During COVID-19

July 01, 2020


Our child care system could not function without Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies. For more than 30 years they have helped families find quality child care and information on where to get help paying for care. They have also offered trainings and supports to providers to open and operate their businesses and to continually improve the quality of their care. In addition, CCR&Rs have gathered data on child care needs and trends  information that is helpful to families, providers and policy makers.  

The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the immense value of CCR&Rs. Throughout the pandemic, these agencies have listened to the concerns of familiesproviders and communities, have advocated on their behalf and – to the degree possible  have stepped up to meet their needs for supplies, information, etc.  

To better understand the work CCR&Rs are undertaking right now, Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) developed a survey to collect information on how CCR&Rs are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and record the concerns they are hearing from parents and families. Staff members from 163 CCR&Rs representing 41 states responded to the survey. Here are some of the top-level findings. 




The top concerns of providers 

The top 5 issues that CCR&R staff (respondents) are hearing about from providers are: 

  1. When and how to reopen child care facilities – 71% 
  2. Whether to close or remain open after the pandemic – 70% 
  3. How to locate and purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (e.g., face masks, gloves, hand sanitizers) – 69% 
  4. Help needed to apply for federal assistance – 63% 
  5. How to support the child care needs of essential workers – 56% 

These results are supported by findings from other national data-gathering efforts. A survey conducted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that just 11% of providers are confident they can survive a closure of indeterminate length without financial support. Researchers at Yale University quantified the need for emergency child care. They estimate that 20 million children ages 0-11 have parents who work in an essential industry. 


How the CCR&R community is responding to the needs of providers 

CCR&Rs (respondents) are addressing the financial needs of providers who are struggling to stay open 

  • 42% have helped child care programs apply for federal assistance (e.g., the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program) 
  • 37% have administered federal funding to providers.  
  • The top three types of funding administered were monies from: the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG); and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 
  • The top three ways those federal funds were used: 
    • To provide supplies to child care providers 
    • To provide direct financial assistance to providers 
    • To provide training and technical assistance 
  • 23% are helping providers find financial assistance outside of federal funding resourcesThese include state and local government grants and funding from private foundations such as the United Way. 

In addition, the majority of CCR&Rs who responded are prepared to train child care providers on topics pertinent to the current public health crisis: providing social-emotional support and resources to children and families, self-care and self-management and cleaning and disinfecting facilities. Forty-four percent are prepared to train providers on new policies and procedures based on the latest CDC recommendations. 


The top concerns of families 

The top 3 issues that parents are asking CCR&Rs to provide information and resources about are: 

  1. The safety of child care environments 
  2. Financial assistance to cover the cost of child care  
  3. How to find child care programs that are open 


How the CCR&R community is responding to the needs of families 

CCR&Rs are providing critical supports to families concerned about their child care situations: 

  • 67% are supporting the emotional needs of families by answering their questions, validating their concerns and customizing responses based on the needs of each family 
  • 64% are helping parents who are essential workers find child care 
  • 38% are providing parents with consumer education and resources to help them understand the complicated policies related to reopening 
  • 37% are helping parents secure financial assistance for child care 


Those are just some of the survey findings. For more comprehensive results, download our PDF. 

Download the Full Findings


CCR&Rs have been called the Eyes and Ears of the Child Care CommunityBut they are also the glue that holds our child care system together. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CCR&Rs have been a critical mechanism for parents, providers and policymakers to communicate with one another. They have a unique perspective on the state of child care across the country and the gaps in the system that COVID-19 has magnified. 

CCAoA is calling on Congress to provide $50 billion in dedicated child care funding to ensure our child care system survives this crisis. Part of that money should be used to fund CCR&Rs to continue their essential work with providers and families and to support their efforts to rebuild the infrastructure of the child care system. 

The next round of coronavirus relief is in the hands of the Senate at the momentNOW is the time to let Congress know that investing in child care is an investment in public health, and in our economic recovery. Send a message to your Senators now and let them know: We need $50 billion in dedicated child care funding to save our child care system. 


Take Action: Tell your Members of Congress to include support for child care in their COVID-19 response.

Topics: Business Operations for CCR&Rs, Coronavirus

Written by Laurie Rackas

Laurie Rackas is the Content Developer on CCAoA's Marketing & Communications team. She is a writer, editor and video producer who specializes in writing for and about children. For her work, she's been awarded six Emmys and a PBS Advertising & Promotion Award, among others.