Washington, DC – The U.S. faces two core child care facility challenges: updating and improving rundown facilities, and building and creating new facilities when most child care programs have no funds to cover construction and major renovation costs. Still, in communities across the country local businesses, nonprofits, child care programs, and philanthropy are partnering and finding ways to improve facilities and increase child care options for families. BPC’s latest report, From the Ground Up: Improving Child Care and Early Learning Facilities, profiles more than 100 innovative facility initiatives.
Nearly 15 million children under age six live in households in which all parents work, leaving many of them in need of child care. Research shows that high quality environments promote healthy behaviors, independence, and strong self-help skills in young children, but often the physical environment is an afterthought.
“Children spend much of their time in child care programs, yet limited data exist on the quality of these facilities—especially across health and safety standards,” the report says. A federal investigation across 10 states, found that 96% of child care programs receiving Child Care and Development Fund dollars had one or more potentially hazardous conditions.” From the Ground Up calls for a national assessment of child care facilities to better determine the scope of the problem and inform national, state, and local solutions.
“As our report demonstrates, communities have a shared responsibility to support the design and maintenance of spaces that facilitate children’s early learning and care while their parents are working,” said Linda Smith, Director of the Early Childhood Initiative at BPC. “Investing in child care facilities goes beyond supporting children’s development, it helps communities thrive and supports small-business owners. But early learning needs involvement from philanthropy, the business and faith communities, and federal, state, and local government to succeed. I hope communities across the country will use this report and draw from examples from 40 states and D.C. that we profiled in our research.”
In addition to state, local and regional examples, the report identifies each of the federal funding streams and programs that can support providers who want to upgrade or rehabilitate their facilities. It also notes states that made public commitments to ensuring quality improvements for child care.
“Our nation’s young children cannot wait,” said Smith. “They need healthy, safe, and developmentally appropriate child care facilities that can help them thrive now.”