If Not Now, When? It’s Time to Transform Child Care

By Mario Cardona on March 22, 2021

Morning Consult

President Joe Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan into law, granting $40 billion in child care funding and providing much-needed relief to providers, parents and children alike.

This child care relief is notable for three reasons: First, it is the largest investment this country has ever made in child care, and is roughly 20 times larger than the child care relief provided in President Barack Obama’s stimulus measure. Second, despite the investment’s size, it has been uncontroversial and has not attracted the types of criticism directed at other relief policies. Third, because it is a one-time investment, it will not be sufficient to advance longer-term transformation in the system of child care.

Congress and the administration will need to build on this investment so that communities can make permanent changes to ensure all families have access to affordable, high-quality child care.

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Billions of Covid relief dollars are going to child care. Here’s why advocates say more needs to be done to fix the crisis

By CCAoA on March 18, 2021

CNBC.com

There already was a child-care crisis in America. Then Covid hit.

Child-care centers shut down. Working parents lost care and child-care workers found themselves without jobs. Parents, namely mothers, left jobs or reduced hours to fill the gap.

“Before the pandemic, the U.S. child-care system was in trouble,” said Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America, an advocacy group that works with local and state child-care resource and referral agencies.

“Layer Covid on top of that and the system, as it stands, really ceases to work well for anybody.”

“The system has to rely on a patchwork of funding streams that place a high burden on families to pay the price of care,” Cardona said.

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Latest Round of Covid Relief Provides Nearly $50 Billion for Child Care Sector

By CCAoA on March 18, 2021

Cheddar

Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America and former senior policy advisor for the Obama Administration, discusses how the latest round of coronavirus relief impacts the child care sector and whether the U.S. has done enough to help.

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How Investment in Early Childhood Education Benefits Everyone

By CCAoA on March 18, 2021

American Resolution podcast

Host David Jolly, a former Congressman, is joined by Mario Cardona, the Chief of Policy and Practice for Child Care Aware of America. Early childhood education is a passion of both the host and guest in this episode and David and Mario dive into the details of how beneficial investment in early childhood education can be for the child, their family, and the entire surrounding community. They also touch on the historic investment in early education that the Biden Administration just made via the American Rescue Plan.

Listen to the podcast

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Child Care Providers Get Billions in Covid-19 Relief Law

By CCAoA on March 14, 2021

Wall Street Journal

The coronavirus relief law signed by President Biden last week pours nearly $50 billion into child care in a bid to keep struggling daycare centers from closing just as the people who rely on them return to work. 

Child-care providers will get about $40 billion for operating expenses and tuition assistance for the children of essential workers, and families will get roughly $8 billion from a temporary expansion of tax breaks subsidizing dependent care. 

The child-care assistance is smaller and less attention-grabbing than $1,400-per-person stimulus checks or the expanded child tax credit worth more than $100 billion to families. 

But the law, in addition to $10 billion in assistance from December legislation, represents the largest one-time U.S. investment in child care, said Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America, an advocacy group. 

“It’s largely been uncontroversial,” he said. “Some things were targeted for complete elimination or reduction. Child care wasn’t one of those things.” 

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CDC updates safety guidelines for child care centers as many struggle to stay in business

By CCAoA on March 12, 2021

MarketWatch

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidance Friday providing strategies to help child care operators offer in-person care safely. 

Though some child care providers closed at the outset of the pandemic, many reopened early on and have remained open for months. As of December 2020, 13% of child care centers and 13% of family child care providers were closed, according to a report from Child Care Aware, a child care advocacy group. 

These organizations have already been doing much of what the CDC recommended Friday, said Nicole Garro, the director of early childhood health programs at Child Care Aware. Still, Garro said, they’re “grateful” for the new guidance. The guidelines were last updated in July, before vaccines were available and when we had a different understanding of the factors leading to the spread of COVID-19.   

“This information is really important to ensuring that child care [providers] remain open and safe,” she said. 

The guidance is particularly “timely,” said Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware, because it’s coming at a moment when child care providers are slated to receive more funding. The relief package signed by President Joe Biden this week will send $24 billion for child care providers to put towards their operations.

“Child care providers stand to have a significant amount of resources to put against a lot of these mitigation measures that are being suggested by the CDC,” Cardona said.

Though many child care providers are open now, at the beginning of the pandemic when state shutdown orders were setting in, many closed, putting their livelihoods at risk. At least 35% of child care centers and 21% of family child care providers were closed in July, according to a report from that period from Child Care Aware. 

Once these providers opened, the costs of operating in a pandemic environment — including personal protective equipment, more staff to decrease staff to teacher ratios, and more — has put these organizations at risk financially.

Those financial challenges are part of why Cardona described the bill signed this week as a “breath of relief.”

“For providers who are already operating on fairly thin budgets,” the extra funding required to operate during the pandemic, “either comes from the providers’ pockets or the families’ pockets,” Cardona said, “because there isn’t a system in place to provide stable support.”

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Congress greenlights a $40 billion bailout for the child-care industry

By CCAoA on March 10, 2021

CNBC.com

With the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act on Wednesday, American families and child-care providers can look forward to a roughly $40 billion infusion for an industry rocked with closures and dramatically increased operating costs amid the pandemic.

“This critical funding will save thousands of providers from permanent closure and help families across the country afford child care,” Lynette Fraga, CEO of Child Care Aware of America, said in a statement Wednesday. “This is a monumental occasion and a historic investment in child care.”

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Celebrate International Women’s Day by Supporting Child Care

By Lynette Fraga, Ph.D. on March 08, 2021

MomsRising blog

On International Women’s Day (March 8), and during Women’s History Month, we call attention to and celebrate the contributions of women throughout history and in our own lives. However, we must acknowledge the inequities and biases found in our society that women continue to face. We must also recognize the intersectionality of race and gender and commit to address in our policies, our workplaces and our communities the structural inequities that persist.

As a mother and as an early childhood educator and advocate, I have personally experienced, seen and heard how critical child care is to American families, and how gender inequities are negatively impacting families as well as the early childhood workforce.

If we want to support women, we must direct people’s attention to changes that can transform the child care system so that it no longer perpetuates the gaps and inequities that keep children from developing to their potential, that keep parents mired in poverty and that keep providers operating on razor-thin margins.  We need to leverage equity-focused data and ensure Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) leaders are in key decision-making roles. 

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Covering the Pandemic Child Care Crisis

By CCAoA on February 23, 2021

The Educated Reporter (Education Writers Association blog)

“COVID really just highlighted the pre-existing situations and challenges of the early childhood system across the nation,” said Dionne Dobbins, the senior director of research at Child Care Aware of America, a research and advocacy group. “When COVID hit, it was layering it on top of a very fragile child care system — and, you know, some would say it even shattered.”

Dobbins was among the experts assembled for the kickoff panel of a recent Education Writers Association event on covering the education and care of children from birth to age 3. 

A lack of adequate federal investment in child care is the driver behind the affordability issues faced by parents, Dobbins argued. 

“The price of child care in many states is more expensive than tuition at a state college for one year,” she said.

Dobbins said data gathered by Child Care Aware indicates that a majority of states were already seeing declines in family child care, as well as the number of child care centers, in 2018 and 2019.

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She was arrested for leaving her kids while she worked. An outpouring of sympathy followed.

By CCAoA on February 19, 2021

The Lily/Washington Post

Bell’s story underscores the structural problems that fail to support struggling parents — especially women of color — in a society too quick to render someone’s fate to the incarceration system, experts say.

Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America, said high-quality child care just isn’t an option for many families. “Even before the pandemic and the associated closures of child-care programs, the supply of child care was decreasing,” he said. “When covid-19 was layered onto the already fragile child-care system, it shattered.”

Before the pandemic, more than half of states reported a decline in the number of child-care centers and 79 percent of states reported a dip in family child-care providers between 2018 and 2019, according to data from Child Care Aware of America.

Cardona and his colleagues estimate that it will take a year or more to understand the impact of the pandemic on child-care services. As of July, the group found that 35 percent of centers and 21 percent of family child-care programs remain closed across the country.

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