“Prior to the pandemic, the child care system was fractured,” said Lynette Fraga, CEO of Child Care Aware of America. “Now, it’s shattered.”
Even before the coronavirus, many parents already faced an impossible choice — caring for their children or earning a living. But COVID-19′s impact on the system has worsened that, Fraga says, and its effects risk creating “child care deserts,” leaving parents unable to return to work, reducing incomes and taking away early education opportunities crucial for a child’s development.
The U.S. child care industry has long relied on Black and Latina women, with women of color making up 40% of its workforce, according to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. These women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. A July survey from the National Association for the Education of Young Children stated half of minority-owned child care businesses expect to close permanently without additional assistance.
“The pandemic has unveiled how little access to support many of these women have,” Fraga said. “It’s exacerbated and spotlighted the inequities we’ve always known existed here.”