The U.S. child-care system is buckling under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, new data suggests — and economists warn that a lack of feasible options during the economic downturn could leave some working mothers’ careers in the lurch.
After COVID-19 forced the closure of many child-care providers across the country, most states allowed for their reopening, according to a report published Thursday by the nonprofit Child Care Aware of America, which advocates for access to affordable child care. But 35% of child-care centers and 21% of family child-care programs in the country remained closed as of July.
“Time will tell if these closures become permanent. If they do, this will pose a serious problem as our nation works to rebuild the economy,” the report authors wrote. “For our economy to regain strength, we must have a steady, reliable workforce who aren’t distracted by child-care worries.”
The organization also suggested that child care could become more costly due to factors such as reduced capacity necessitated by physical distancing, supplies including personal protective equipment, training on new safety measures and communication of protocols to employees and parents.