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Building a Better Child Care System


“If you could build it, what would a better child care system look like?” This question was posed to a study group at the Coordinating Office as we were discussing the Child Care Aware of America Picking Up the Pieces report.

The report points out that the current system falls far short of meeting the needs of all participants in the system: families, educators, and communities. How did we get here? An analogy came to me later that day as I drove down a street in my neighborhood. My car vibrated wildly on the bumpy, uneven surface that had been patched and filled so many times that there was very little original pavement left.

Like that street, our child care system has been patched again and again to respond to weaknesses and holes in quality and access. It can be navigated with some difficulty to get you where you want to go, but there are bumps that make you clench your teeth and hope that you make it in one piece. When the pandemic hit, it was like a snow plow barreled through with its heavy blade, causing even more ruts and exposing every weak point in the patches we’ve laid down.

Our already fragile system is at a breaking point; It’s time to imagine and reconstruct a better child care system that really works for families, educators, and communities.