Child care and preschool: Cutting costs for working families

Child Care

Rhian Evans Allvin, the CEO of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), recently testified in Congress about the need to reduce child care and Pre-K costs for families. 

In March, 48 percent of American workers said that child care is the issue keeping them out of the workforce. According to another recent study, both men and women face a 7 percent wage penalty for taking time away from the workforce due to challenges with child care. And, childcare workers in 41 states do not earn a living wage – and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Despite more than 20 years of evidence and data attesting to the benefits of investing in high-quality early childhood education, our nation’s progress has been limited,” said Evans Allvin. “Quality early learning settings remain scarce and unaffordable. Parents pay more for child care than public in-state college tuition, yet still don’t have real choices.”

In her testimony, Evans Allvin called for urgent action, outlining six pillars for federal investment in early childhood education:

  1. Child care must be more affordable. Ensuring that families don’t pay more than seven percent of their incomes for child care creates a sliding scale that meets families’ individual budgets.
  2. Child care must be financed at scale. If it is not, families will continue to experience the unresolvable tensions and tradeoffs between affordability, accessibility and quality, and the compensation structures won’t exist to recruit and retain a qualified workforce.
  3. Preschool and child care provisions must remain aligned. Bifurcating a system by age band and setting undermines all that we know about how the marketplace works, how families make choices and how the system is financed.
  4. Cost models that drive the distribution of funds must be based on the cost of care. Subsidies need to account for a variety of factors, including wages, enrollment of children, and fixed costs in order to provide the stability and predictability that are required for child care employers to confidently invest in quality and their workforce.
  5. While the public sector must finance the system, the delivery of care must remain in the marketplace. Different families need different solutions, and they must have real options that include family child care, faith-based settings, public schools, community-based settings, Head Start and private providers.
  6. Strong and straightforward accountability systems need to be in place to ensure the increased investment is reaching early childhood educators. These systems don’t need to be complex, but they do need to be insistent that increased taxpayer dollars get to early childhood educators’ salaries through their employers.



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