Despite decades of research on the critical nature of early childhood brain development, significant economic returns on early childhood investment, and families’ inability to afford high quality child care, policymakers have not dedicated sufficient funding to ensure equitable access to quality child care. The United States lags behind other countries in spending per young child, in part because child care is seen as a personal responsibility and not as a public good.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on an already frail child care industry and the economic security of women. Women ages 25 to 44 are almost three times as likely as men not to be working due to child care demands. Infant and toddler child care is three times as scarce than care for preschool aged children, and the fallout of this economic and health crisis will increase inequity for child care for low- and middle-income communities, Black and Hispanic families, and rural families. As the pandemic unfolds, RCCF grantees will play important roles in demanding a more equitable child care system at all levels of governance and holding elected officials accountable.