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“The pandemic has shined a harsh light on what has been a long-festering problem. The world’s largest economy notoriously lags other industrialized countries in investing in child care and early education: The U.S. spends less than 1% of gross domestic product, putting it ahead of only Turkey and Ireland among the member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ‘Almost all developed countries have things like subsidized child care, paid family leave, universal health care,’ says Sandra Black, an economist at Columbia University. ‘The economics make sense.’ ”

“The lack of family-focused policies isn’t just inconvenient for working parents, it’s become increasingly clear it’s holding women—and by extension the country—back. According to a report from S&P Global Inc., the U.S. could add $1.6 trillion to GDP if women entered and stayed in the workforce at a rate similar to Norway’s, which has government-subsidized day care.

“One estimate found that if American mothers continued to cut back on work at the same rate as during the first wave of Covid in April, the accumulated loss in wages would amount to $64.5 billion annually. This reality may finally be sinking in for policymakers. ‘We’re in the mainstream discussion of economics,’ says Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women. ‘We were fully excluded before.’ ”

 

“The U.S. Child-Care Crisis Is Torturing Parents and the Economy,” by Cynthia Koons, Bloomberg Businessweek, December 10, 2020

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“The situation is dire for child care providers—the ones that are still open. Add to that the thousands of providers that have already closed and the magnitude of this national crisis is much, much greater.” — Rhian Evans Allvin, CEO, NAEYC

“We are temporarily closing as of tomorrow. I cannot find or keep staff. I have a waitlist and empty classrooms.” — Tanya Going, child care provider, Pryor, Oklahoma

“We are foregoing purchases that impact quality programming in an effort to save funds. The uncertainty and the increased expenses have caused us to postpone the purchase of needed materials, supplies, staff professional development and equipment.” — Melissa Colagrosso, child care provider, Oak Hill, West Virginia

 

“Am I Next? Sacrificing to Stay Open, Child Care Providers Face a Bleak Future Without Relief,” NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), December 2020

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“It’s important to remember that before Covid, child care did not work in the United States…. I was part of a major study at New America, and it’s one many others have done, that really found that our child care — [that] we don’t really have a child care system. It’s a broken sort of patchwork that parents are expected to pay so much [for] out of pocket. It’s so much more expensive than most parents can afford. It’s very difficult to find quality child care. And the care educators and teachers, they’re earning poverty wages. About half of them earn so little that they qualify for public benefits like Medicaid and Food Stamps.”

“The other thing that’s just really startling is in surveys when people ask child care providers, How are you? Are you going to stay open? So many of them can’t. We are at risk of losing a million child care slots in an already broken system.”

 

“Why Women Are Disproportionately Impacted By The Pandemic Economy,” Brigid Schulte, Director of the Better Life Lab program and The Good Life Initiative at New America, on the Diane Rehm Show, WAMU Radio, December 1, 2020

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“I think it’s important for us to teach that little black girl that there’s nothing wrong with her because of the color of her skin, because of the texture of her hair. And I think it’s also important for us to teach that little white boy, that there’s nothing right about him because of the color of his skin, or even because of the texture of his hair, that there’s nothing superior about him.

“I also think it’s important for us to deliberately teach our children — especially if you’re in a community where, let’s say, the resource-rich side of town is predominantly white, and the resource-poor side of town is predominantly black — for us to talk to our kids about that and say, you know, those black folks do not have less, because they are less; those white folks don’t have more, because they are more. And then the student, even if they’re five years old, they’re like, Okay, so then, what’s the reason? And that’s when we can talk about rules and unfair rules.”

Boston University Professor Ibram Kendi, discussing antiracism and early childhood policy with the Alliance for Early Success, November 18, 2020

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“Congresswoman Katherine Clark on Thursday said a lack of access to child care is ‘holding our economy hostage’ and called for a shift in how the public views care and education of young children.

“Speaking at an online Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce event, Clark said child care should be thought of as a public good like transportation infrastructure rather than as a personal choice for parents.

“ ‘If the Zakim Bridge collapsed, the effects on the local economy would be immediate, devastating and obvious,’ Clark said during what the Chamber billed as the Melrose Democrat’s first address to the business community. ‘Every one of us would leap into action. We would make the necessary investments in resources because we know our ability to function hinges on it. The pandemic has shown us this is true for child care.’

“Describing the current economic crisis as ‘the country’s first she-cession,’ Clark said women have been especially hard hit by the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, 865,000 women left the workforce, she said.

“Clark said many women have been confronted with a choice between their jobs and caregiving responsibilities.”

 

“Clark: Crisis exposes crucial role of child care,” by Katie Lannan, State House News Service, October 22, 2020

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“A major portion of Worcester’s childcare services are offered by home-based care givers known as family childcare providers, and COVID-19 has had a deleterious impact on these small businesses.

“Many of these providers, who open their homes and hearts to small groups of children, were forced to temporarily cease operations earlier this year and, as a result, now face severe financial challenges. This summer, Edward Street and Greater Worcester Community Foundation (GWCF) collaborated with the Commonwealth Children’s Fund (CCF) to provide grants to 85 local, high quality family child care providers, to help these businesses comply with the many new pandemic protocols required to safely re-open and remain a viable option for families returning to work.

“ ‘These, mostly women- and minority-owned, businesses did not have the scope of resources and support needed to navigate closures and prepare for the new re-opening regulations,’ said Eve Gilmore, Edward Street’s Executive Director. ‘They operate on razor-thin margins and many are struggling to stay afloat.’ ”

“One such provider is Gina Hamilton who, after receiving the funds, wrote: ‘I cannot explain how much this means to me and how this gives me some room to breathe. Last night, for the first time since our mandated shut down, I slept without nightmarish dreams.’

“Hamilton was able to purchase critical materials, such as a tent for outside play, an ultraviolet light air purifier, disinfectant supplies and a hand sanitizer dispenser, and to create a new check in station for families, in order to safely re-open. She was also able to apply funds towards her past due mortgage. These grants mean possibilities.”

 

— “Grants Provide Financial Assistance to Essential Worcester County Family Child Care Providers,” press release, October 5, 2020

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“Kenya Bradshaw, vice president of an education company with 500 employees, said she started seeing an overwhelming number of female employees using up vacation days early on in the pandemic, and is now seeing them leave their jobs because of childcare issues.

” ‘Many of our women actually make more than their husbands, but they are the ones who are the lead childcare provider, so because of that, their families are also taking on some additional economic strain,’ she said. ‘These are middle class women I’m talking about in most cases.’

” ‘I’m concerned about the burden of low to moderate wage employees who don’t even have the flexibility to make that decision,’ added Bradshaw, who received thousands of replies when she posted about the topic on social media”

 

“Mothers in the workplace at a ‘tipping point’ amid the pandemic, childcare crisis,” Katie Kindelan, Good Morning America, October 1, 2020

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Earlier this week, child care champions posted tweets to encourage Congress to #SaveChildCare.

 

 

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“ ‘Women are impacted no matter where you look,’ Catherine White, Director of Child Care and Early Learning at the National Women’s Law Center, told NBC. ‘You have families who have lost their jobs or lost their income, and they’re thinking about going back to work without money to pay for child care. And then on the other side you have child care providers who are facing rising costs, they’re serving fewer kids and having less revenue coming in. So they have to charge more, and parents can’t pay and providers can’t charge less.’

A study by the National Women’s Law Center and the Center for Law and Social Policy found that it would take nearly $10 billion per month to keep the child care system afloat during the pandemic. Congress has already appropriated $3.5 billion for child care in the first CARES Act, but advocates are calling for more.

“ ‘$50 billion sounds big, but not in terms of when you’re thinking about the size of the workforce and the impacts. Child care providers employ millions of caregivers across the U.S. and supports tens of millions of families to go to work,’ said White.”

 

“Child care providers struggle as need for services remain for many,” by Molly Roecker and Ali Vitali, NBC News, August 31, 2020

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“The message is essentially to read the right books at the right time. So when you are reading to infants when they are younger, and you name characters in a book with a proper level name like Betty, they tend to pay more attention to those characters, and they learn more about those characters. It seems they are a little bit more engaged when the characters have names.”

— Lisa Scott, psychology professor at the University of Florida, “Read The Right Books At The Right Time: A Learning Sciences Exchange Fellows’ Project,” New America, August 26, 2020

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