Last week, Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law, the American Rescue Plan Act. The legislation has pronounced implications for schools and students with substantial dollars targeted to K-12 education and higher education, funding to support the childcare industry, and an expanded child tax credit. The nearly $130 billion heading to K-12 school districts constitutes the largest single federal outlay in history, and is earmarked for facilitating safe in-person reopening and providing resources to redress learning setbacks caused by pandemic-induced schooling disruptions.
A recent research brief, released by the Society for Research on Child Development, describes how the childcare industry has been affected by COVID-19. The brief highlights the essential role of high-quality childcare in supporting working parents and preparing children for success in school and beyond, and explains how the pandemic exacerbated the industry’s already precarious situation. The summary emphasizes the negative ramifications for childcare providers themselves and their children.
- Funding to address increased costs during the pandemic and to stabilize childcare providers,
- Policies to support early educators in implementing new safety guidelines and provisions to ensure their health and safety as they care for children,
- Mental health services and supports to address early educators’ needs as well as strategies to support children’s healthy behavioral and emotional development during the pandemic, and
- Strategies to ensure equity in the development and implementation of initiatives to avoid furthering or exacerbating the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on early educators and children of color.
A report from researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’s Community Development and Engagement Group finds that mothers of young children have left the labor market in large numbers during the pandemic, likely due to schooling and childcare disruptions. Mothers’ labor force participation rates have not rebounded while the rates among fathers have.