Op-ed by Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., CEO of Child Care Aware of America, and Deeann Puffert, CEO of Child Care Aware of Washington.
This is a critical time for our economy. It is also a critical time for the most important workforce support of all – child care. Parents cannot work, no matter how essential they are, if they do not have child care for their children. Earlier this spring, nearly 6% of Washington nurses who responded to a survey reported they had to use sick time, or not work at all, due to not having child care.
Now, with many K-12 schools offering remote learning only, many more children are in need of child care who previously attended elementary schools. Yet our state’s child care programs are struggling to keep their doors open, and many have closed.
High-quality child care programs don’t just fall from the sky whenever they are needed. They are built over time upon a foundation of trust, health and safety guidelines and small business ingenuity.
That’s why Child Care Aware of America and Child Care Aware of Washington are asking Congress to invest in the long-term stability and success of our country’s child care system.
We would never expect our K-12 educational system to struggle month after month with only stopgap funding, and then expect it to be 100% ready for in-person instruction when the pandemic subsides.
We cannot expect it of our mostly privately funded child care system either.
Investments reveal what matters. Investing in America’s children, families and workforce matters.
For Washington’s and the nation’s economy to reopen after the COVID-19 threat subsides, millions of families will need safe, affordable child care. Let’s make sure it will be there for all with robust public investment.