Child Care is Essential Before, During and After the Pandemic
The early childhood workforce, and child care itself, is always essential. Without a strong and healthy early childhood workforce, we cannot sustain a strong and healthy economy. However, as we lurch into the seventh month of the pandemic and the start of school, our Child Care information Specialists are talking with working parents every day who are desperate to find safe, available care for their children.
We should take this opportunity to build a better system for both the short and the long term. Just as we have chosen to invest in K-12 education through per pupil funding, we need an early care and education financing structure that supports access for all families, as well supporting early childhood educators.A recent study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offered a sobering look at what parents are up against: a whopping 75% of parents currently have children staying home with them during working hours, compared to 52% before the pandemic. Similarly, this national survey reports a decline in the use of child care, from 25% to 11% using centers, and from 14% to 9% using family child care.
The arrangements that parents have been able to make are unstable: two-thirds of parents report changing their child care arrangement due to COVID-19, and 60% say that they will need to change their current child care arrangement within the next year. This instability creates a cascade of challenges: children need and want predictability and consistency, parents need to have stable child care to be productive employees, and early educators need to be able to plan for staffing, facilities, and their future income.
Child Care Aware of Minnesota will continue to provide support for parents looking for care through our website, online chat, and phone line, along with our outreach efforts to employers, intermediary organizations, and other professionals. That task would be easier with a shared understanding that child care—the workforce behind the workforce—was essential before, is essential now, and is going to be essential in our future.