When families have access to high-quality, affordable child care, they thrive. Parents can work to provide for their families, knowing their children are safe; and young children can learn and explore, creating a solid foundation for future learning and development.
Yet many families struggle because they cannot afford or find child care. High-quality child care is expensive to provide, and without public investment, those costs are passed along to parents. As a result, half of Americans live in child care deserts, communities where there are not enough licensed child care providers to serve the population of young children who need child care.
Increasing access to affordable, quality child care and making sure parents have options to choose from requires both Congress and elected state officials to provide more public funding for child care. It is critical to address the nation’s child care shortage without sacrificing program quality or endangering child safety just to cut costs. Congress can act by increasing funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and passing comprehensive reform that address affordability, quality, and higher wages for early educators.
Leila Schochet is a policy analyst for Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress. Rasheed Malik is a senior policy analyst for Early Childhood Policy at the Center.
*Authors’ note: These estimates are based on data from the 115th Congress, for which the most recent data are available.