This article on the Health Affairs Blog from researchers at the Urban Institute and the University of Chicago argues that children’s needs should be at the heart of pandemic and recovery discussions, discusses the central role robust child care will play in Covid-19 near- and long-term recovery efforts, and outlines the federal, state, and local support necessary to meet these needs.
In this piece, the researchers discuss some early lessons learned about our child care system that will need to be kept in mind as we continue to respond to the pandemic and attempt to move toward recovery:
- “Child care providers are essential workers caring for the children of other essential workers”
- Child care services are needed around the clock, as many essential workers do not work “conventional” hours – currently, there is little child care to meet needs due to fluctuating parent work schedules or outside traditional, weekday hours.
- Parents cannot return to work without local, affordable child care
- “Child care programs will not be able to simply turn the lights back on when shelter-in-place orders are lifted”
- Federal, state, and private resources and support will be needed to rebuild, strengthen and sustain the child care & early education infrastructure
- Child care and early education can play a critical role in helping children and families recover from Covid-19-related trauma and loss, and for many children, “the pandemic is ripping away the web of stabilizing supports that meet their basic needs for safety, food, shelter, health care, and education, as well as strong supportive relationships with adults.”
This report follows the researchers’ April 2020 policy brief Child Care Subsidies: Supporting Work and Child Development for Healthy Families.