New Report Provides National and State-by-State Look at Child Care  During COVID-19 Pandemic

September 24, 2020

Report finds that 35% of centers and 21% of family child care programs remain closed nationwide

Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) today released a new report and interactive website on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on child care access, affordability and quality.  

The report, titled Picking Up the Pieces: Building a Better Child Care System Post COVID-19, combines CCAoA’s annual High Price of Child Care report and State Fact Sheets for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., into one report along with additional data gathered from Child Care Resource and Referral agencies and other sources as recently as July 2020. 

The report features information about CCAoA’s new Child Care Data Center that includes additional child care data and stories for six pilot states: Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. 

 This report shows that when COVID-19 was layered onto the already fragile child care system, it shattered,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., CEO of Child Care Aware of America. “Many providers remain closed or are in danger of closing, parents are struggling to find quality child care arrangements that will allow them to work productively, and without a reliable, steady workforce, our country will not recover economically from the pandemic-related shutdown. Simply put: no child care, no recovery.”  

 Among the report’s main findings on the pandemic’s impact on child care:   

  • As of July 2020, 35% of child care centers and 21% of family child care programs remain closed nationwide.  
  • Child care attendance and enrollment remain significantly lower than they were at the start of 2020. 17 of 32 states that submitted data for July 2020 lost more than 25% of their child care capacity. 
  • The cost to provide quality child care is also likely to increase due to lower provider-child ratios and increased costs for personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies. Quality may suffer as child care providers focus on ways to stay in business. 
  • Without significant public investment in our child care system, providers will likely have to pass along extra costs related to COVID-19 to parents who are already struggling to stay afloat during this economic downturn. 

The report also explores child care access and affordability before the pandemic:  

  • Even before the outbreak of COVID-19 and the associated closures of child care programs, the supply of child care was decreasing. Between 2018 and 2019, 53% of states reported a decline in the number of child care centers and 79% of states reported a decline in family child care (FCC) providers.
  • The national average price of child care in 2019 was $9,200 - $9,600, more than 10% of married couples’ household income to care for just one child. For a single parent, this would comprise 34% of household income.  
    • One affordability benchmark that CCAoA considers is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommendation that families who are receiving child care subsidies should not pay more than 7% of their income towards co-payments.
  • In the Midwest, Northeast and South, the price of full-time, center-based care for two children is the highest category of household expenses, higher than housing, transportation, food and health care. In the West, the price of child care for two children is surpassed only by the high price of housing.

The report also includes case studies from several states, parent and child care provider stories, and two economists’ perspectives on the potential long-term consequences of COVID-19 on the child care system.  

Picking Up the Pieces outlines three key components to build a better child care system after COVID-19 

  1. Public investment. With the additional stresses the pandemic has put on an already fragile child care system, $50 billion in dedicated funding is needed to stabilize the system. This significant funding level is necessary to support families as they return to school or the workforce, save thousands of child care jobs and businesses and ensure that we have a child care system to return to when COVID-19 subsides.

  2. A solid data foundation. Data is fundamental to an equitable child care system, but it’s extremely hard to get data from all states in a timely, standardized, systematic and efficient manner. CCAoA encourages the development of automated, interoperable systems with common standards to ensure that data collection, management, and dissemination is more efficient and functional for stakeholders.

  3. Resources and supports for families, children and child care providers. Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) in nearly every state and other intermediaries are positioned to help families navigate complicated child care systems by providing consumer education products and referrals to affordable, quality child care programs. Over 75% of CCR&Rs have plans to help child care providers reopen, including providing information, helping providers secure PPE and cleaning supplies, and working to recruit child care providers to repopulate local supply. CCR&Rs are a critical piece of the child care system and additional investment in these organizations would strengthen efforts to build a better child care system. 

This is our opportunity to re-envision child care as a public good that all children have a right to access,” said Dr. Fraga. CCAoA’s vision for the future of child care is that every family in the U.S. has access to a high-quality, affordable child care system. We can help make that vision a reality by letting our elected representatives at all levels of government know that we will hold them accountable to ensure high-quality child care is affordable and available for all those who need it.”  

Topics: Press Release

David Carrier

Written by David Carrier

David Carrier is Senior Manager of Public Relations for Child Care Aware® of America. He has designed and implemented communications strategies for children’s organizations for more than 20 years. Prior to joining CCAoA, he worked for Council for a Strong America, Child Trends, National Human Services Assembly/National Collaboration for Youth, and National 4-H Council. David has a J.D. from American University and a B.A. from Brandeis University.