After the pandemic struck and lockdowns ensued, Congress included $3.5 billion for childcare in its initial rescue package in April 2020 and another $10 billion in a second bill that December. But at $39 billion, “the scale of the ARPA funding is very different,” said Anne Hedgepeth, senior director of federal and state government affairs at Child Care Aware of America, a network of childcare care resource and referral agencies.
Providers faced additional challenges. Keeping employees and children uninfected is an expensive endeavor. Social distancing and other precautions necessarily limit the number of kids who can be safely accommodated—which in turn limits potential revenue. While most of the U.S. economy has suffered greatly as a result of the crisis, the childcare industry has been in the eye of the storm.
And the storm isn’t over yet. “There’s a desperate and ongoing need for a lifeline,” Hedgepeth said.