“The reality is if we can get this done, we are still going to have to work with states,” said Anne Hedgepeth, the senior director of federal and state government affairs at Child Care Aware of America, a child care advocacy group. “That’s where we can really also create the guardrails needed to make sure that no particular kind of early learning setting or age group faces unintended consequences as a result of what could be a tremendous influx of long-needed resources.”
The pandemic has also already created something of a roadmap. Earlier this year, states got an unprecedented $39 billion to spend on improving their child care systems — the largest boost in child care funding to date.
In the months since, states have started to work through where they would put those funds, building up better lists of where child care providers are located, what the needs are and how to reach them.
“Even though there are gaps for sure … it does tell us there is some real ability for state-led agencies to adapt and to make this happen,” Hedgepeth said.