Parent. Teacher. Employee. Chef. Counselor. Coach. Nurse. Playmate. Not necessarily in that order. Ask a working parent how well they’re wearing all of these hats right now. Ask a working parent if they think child care is a second- or third-tier issue.
The COVID-19 public health crisis has been a wake-up call to the role of the child care industry in our lives. Child care is essential to America’s economic recovery. Thirteen million working parents rely on this industry to care for their children while they do their jobs. In many cases, working parents will not be able to return to work if their child care programs are unable to reopen.
It’s past time to start talking about solutions. The supply of child care was declining before this pandemic, so without immediate, targeted support for providers, we risk losing them permanently. While critical support through the CARES Act was provided to small businesses early on in this crisis, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, only one-quarter of the child care market received a Paycheck Protection Loan. Child care cannot be reserved for second or third phases of re-opening.