Child Care

Despite being a critical economic support for working families and a key lever for promoting early learning and social-emotional development, child care is inaccessible and unaffordable for far too many families across the United States. The cost of providing high-quality child care is beyond what most families are able to pay, and child care subsidies that offset some of those costs only reach a fraction of eligible families and fail to meet providers’ true financial needs. Even when families can afford child care expenses, many face challenges with finding a seat in a program close to their home or work or with availability to work with their schedule. More than half of the U.S. population lives in a child care desert, with low-income, rural, and Hispanic and Latino communities facing the highest rates of child care deserts. Child care workers—who are overwhelmingly women and disproportionately women of color—are paid poverty wages with few if any benefits, driving a workforce recruitment and retention issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the child care crisis into focus, but historic underinvestment and inaction on child care has resulted in a child care system that does not adequately meet the needs of anyone it should. The time is long overdue for large-scale public investments in a child care system that truly meets the needs of all families and fairly compensates the essential work of educators who make up the child care workforce.

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Executive Summary: Protecting Children From Extreme Heat Is Critical for Their Health, Learning, and Development Fact Sheet
The sun sets in New York City as children cool off.

Executive Summary: Protecting Children From Extreme Heat Is Critical for Their Health, Learning, and Development

This fact sheet summarizes a recent Center of American Progress report highlighting the need for policymakers to take steps to develop heat standards for children and support infrastructure improvements to ensure schools, child care centers, and communities are safe and healthy places for children.

Protecting Children From Extreme Heat Is Critical for Their Health, Learning, and Development Report
Children cool off by playing in a fountain in Brooklyn’s Domino Park, New York, during a heat wave.

Protecting Children From Extreme Heat Is Critical for Their Health, Learning, and Development

As climate change intensifies extreme heat around the globe, policymakers must take steps to develop heat standards for children and support infrastructure improvements to ensure schools, child care centers, and communities are safe and healthy places for children.

Lowering Costs for American Families Past Event

Lowering Costs for American Families

Join CAP for a conversation with Neera Tanden, Domestic Policy Advisor to President Joe Biden.

Fact Sheet: Building an Economy That Delivers for Women Fact Sheet
A woman pushing a stroller walks through an atrium with light pouring in and a small pool reflecting plant life

Fact Sheet: Building an Economy That Delivers for Women

This fact sheet offers a brief summary of CAP’s “Playbook for the Advancement of Women in the Economy,” which provides federal and state policymakers with the tools they need to center women in their economic plans and grow the economy.

Rose Khattar

Playbook for the Advancement of Women in the Economy Report

Playbook for the Advancement of Women in the Economy

This collection of policy recommendations reveals how policymakers can grow the economy by centering the changes that women need in their economic platforms.

Rose Khattar, Sara Estep

States Are Taking Action To Address the Child Care Crisis Article
An empty classroom is pictured at a New Glarus, Wisconsin, child care center.

States Are Taking Action To Address the Child Care Crisis

Federal COVID-19 relief funding for child care stabilization grants ended in September 2023, but a number of states have stepped up this year to address the child care needs of working families.

Anna Lovejoy

Data Dashboard: An Overview of Child Care and Early Learning in the United States Report
Preschool students in Washington, D.C., are joined by the interim chancellor for District of Columbia Public Schools.

Data Dashboard: An Overview of Child Care and Early Learning in the United States

The Center for American Progress has developed a data dashboard that allows users to explore national- and state-level data trends on a range of child care and early learning topics, including access to affordable care, the child care workforce, Head Start, and exclusionary discipline policies.

Related Resources on Child Care and Early Learning Article
A 3-year-old walks to a park with her family in Rockville, Maryland.

Related Resources on Child Care and Early Learning

This webpage offers a list of resources that can help make the case for investments in child care and early learning at the state level.

the CAP Early Childhood Policy Team

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Building an Economy for All

Building an Economy for All

Economic growth must be built on the foundation of a strong and secure middle class so that all Americans benefit from growth.

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