COVID Child Care Challenges: Supporting Families and Caregivers
On Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. ET, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, will hold a hybrid remote / in-person hearing with child care providers and experts on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the already struggling child care sector, and the resulting effect on American families and caregivers and the overall economy.
The hearing with highlight how the coronavirus crisis caused a steep reduction in the employment of child care workers and the availability of child care, making it much more difficult for many Americans, particularly mothers of young children, to work. These difficulties have reduced the size of the workforce and heightened gender inequality. Recent Census Bureau data shows that from December 2021 to January 2022, nearly 2 million women left a job, lost a job, or had not looked for a job because of the need to care for children, compared with under 1.2 million men.
The American Rescue Plan has limited the harm, providing $39 billion in investments to child care providers, which, along with other pandemic relief funding, has helped keep child care centers open, raise child care wages, and support families. Nearly half of child care providers surveyed in summer 2021 reported that their centers would have closed absent pandemic relief funds. Census Bureau data also shows that the American Rescue Plan’s temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit helped up to 7 million families cover child care costs in 2021.
Despite the clear success of congressional efforts to support families and the child care sector through the pandemic, child care employment remains 10 percent below the pre-pandemic level, and temporary relief funds cannot address the longstanding structural affordability and compensation problems. A robust and equitable recovery for all depends on expanding the availability of affordable and high-quality child care. The hearing will discuss that need for sustained federal investment in child care and support for families, including increasing investments in child care quality and affordability and extending the expanded Child Tax Credit. Initiatives like these would help make child care affordable for families and promote economic growth, while providing decent wages for child care workers, who are majority women, disproportionately women of color, and crucial to our economy.
Dr. Lea J.E. Austin
Executive Director, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California
Ms. Gina Forbes
Early Childhood Educator and Parent, Brunswick, Maine
Dr. Lynette M. Fraga
Chief Executive Officer, Child Care Aware of America
Ms. Carrie Lukas
President, Independent Women's Forum
Dr. Betsey Stevenson
Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Economics, University of Michigan
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