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Survival of Early Education and Child Care Critical Amid COVID-19 and Beyond

As parents return to their jobs in the weeks and months ahead, the availability of early childhood learning and child care that enables them to go to work is in serious question. During the COVID-19 crisis, early childhood learning programs and the child care industry have suffered staggering and widespread disruptions. Many early childhood learning programs have been suspended and many child care businesses have been shuttered, highlighting the fragility of the industry’s financing model and the indispensability of such service for supporting parents’ participation in the workforce.

A 2020 Solutions Brief released today by the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) depicts the devastation facing the child care industry amid COVID-19 and highlights the critical role early care and education plays in preparing our future workforce. The Brief recommends that policymakers and business leaders, most immediately, tackle the destructive economic impact of COVID-19 on child care, through temporary funding support, appropriate safety precautions, and creative public-private partnerships, to help providers transition to the new normal and beyond. They must also advance high-quality care and early education ensuring that all children under age 5 have access to high-quality early learning opportunities, including a durable financing system, appropriate support and training for staff, and private sector leadership and participation.

“Without child care, the economy cannot be fully re-opened,” said Lori Esposito Murray, CED President. “But equally important, quality early learning programs provide today’s youngsters the foundation of skills needed to meet employers’ changing demands, maintain the nation’s global competitiveness, and sustain our democracy. COVID-19 has made it clearer that our country must invest, immediately and over the long term, in early childhood learning and care so that all America’s children reach their full potential.”

Early Education and Child Care: The Essential Sector recommends the following solutions to bolster the child care industry and strengthen early care and education. The US should:

  • Promote high-quality child care and public-supported pre-K as a public good and treat it as an integral part of education and workforce preparation.
  • Ensure that all children have high-quality early learning opportunities from birth, especially for the most disadvantaged.
  • Implement a sustainable financing system capable of supporting affordable access to high-quality child care and public pre-K.
  • Invest in a high-quality early education workforce through such initiatives as state tax credits to reward professional training.
  • Modernize child care regulations to deliver quality and encourage innovation.
  • Leverage business leaders to make the national interest case for investing in early learning.

The new brief can be read here.

About the 2020 Solutions Briefs
The 2020 Solutions Briefs are part of a series focused on non-partisan, reasoned solutions in the nation’s interest. To be released over the next several months, they will address the central challenges we face in order to provide prosperity for all Americans.

About CED
The Committee for Economic Development is the Public Policy Center of The Conference Board that delivers well-researched analysis, and non-partisan, reasoned solutions in the nation’s interest. www.ced.org.

About The Conference Board
The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States. www.conference-board.org

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