The pandemic meant a lot of child care agencies closed, and some of those have remained closed.
Child Care Aware of America compared data between December 2019 and July 2020 and found that 35% of child care centers remained closed and 21% of family child care programs were closed.
Since presenting those findings, the organization's senior data analyst Kristina Haynie analyzed December 2020 data. She said the supply of child care is recovering from the initial shock of COVID-19, but attendance data is still concerning.
Child care comes with a trifold challenge: how do you provide high-quality care, while keeping it affordable and while paying fair wages to employees?
Haynie said providers want to "be on the cutting edge of child development" but are often short on time or money.
The latest COVID-19 relief package from Congress could help. The American Rescue Plan provides $39 billion in child care relief funding.
It includes $24 billion for financially stressed child care providers for personal protective equipment, rent and mortgage payments, labor costs and other expenses. Another $15 billion would help subsidize child care costs for eligible families, helping an estimated 875,000 children, according to USA TODAY.
Haynie said the money will lay the foundation for a more equitable system that provides "quality care that all children deserve."
Haynie, the data analyst, said a one-size-fits-all approach won't work since some communities need more after-hours care or some employees might want on-site care for the typical working day. But businesses should partner with their local child care resource and referrals agency, like Bowlin's, to better understand what their community needs.
Haynie said businesses should also ask their employees what they need through surveys or other means. Some folks might love their current child care situation but would appreciate extra financial support to pay fees.