Child care is one of the greatest multi-taskers that exists – it simultaneously provides both early care and education for our youngest citizens, enables parents to work and attend school, provides an economic driver for business that ensures a stable workforce, and employs more than one million workers. Each of us, whether we have children or not, has a stake in the success of child care in this country. First Focus on Children is proud to be a co-signer of Principles for Child Care: A Vision for Investing in High-Quality, Affordable Child Care. Signed by more than 25 advocacy organizations, this document lays out the core principles any comprehensive child care proposal must have. Combining high-quality, access, affordability, and a well-supported workforce will improve our child care system to provide the care, education and economic stability we need for the success of our children and the national economy. 

Our current child care system has many challenges and areas for improvement:

Most American families cannot afford child care. For one infant, a two-income household spends more than 10.6 percent of its income on child care. A single-parent household spends 37 percent of its income on child care. The cost of child care for two children exceeds mortgage costs for homeowners in 35 states and the District of Columbia. And child care fees for two children in a child care center exceeds annual median rent payments in each and every state[1].

Insufficient child care hurts our economy. The annual cost of lost productivity, earnings and revenue to our economy due to child care problems tops $57 billion[2].

Our early childhood professionals are grossly underpaid. In 2017, child care workers earned less than two-thirds of the median wage for all occupations in their states[3]. Child care workers in 21 states and Washington, D.C. would have to spend more than half of their income to pay for center-based care for their own infants. Forty-six percent of early childhood professionals rely on one or more public support programs annually[4].

And yet, our youngest children’s brains are making more neural connections than at any other time in their lives, making it a critical time for learning and development. The settings that our children spend their days in matter for improved outcomes in health, well-being, education, economic stability and reduced involvement in the criminal justice system[5]. We must do better for our children, their families, the professionals who care for them every day and our economy.

As outlined in these Principles for Child Care, First Focus on Children believes that all children should receive high-quality child care; that families should be able to access the high-quality child care setting that best meets their needs; should get the financial support they need to afford high-quality child care; and that early childhood professionals in all settings should receive the support, resource, and compensation they need to provide high-quality care and to support their own families.

This is an investment that is worth making and that we must make.

[1]The U.S. and the High Cost of Child Care,”Childcare Aware, 2018

[2]Want to grow the economy? Fix the child care crisis,” Ready Nation, 2019

[3]Early Childhood Workforce Index, 2018,” Center for the Study of Child Care Employment

[4]Child care workers aren’t paid enough to make ends meet,” Economic Policy Institute, November 2015

[5]Research Summary: The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program,” Heckman.