Washington, DC – Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Early Childhood Initiative released a new report and interactive map quantifying the supply of, potential need for, and gaps in child care in 25 states as of 2019. This research reflects the stark challenges that surrounded child care before the coronavirus pandemic began, and subsequent research makes clear these challenges have only deepened since then.
For years, lawmakers have advocated financial support to increase access to child care for all working families. However, amid these efforts, an important underlying question has remained: “How much additional child care does the country need?” This new analysis serves as the first attempt to answer this question and, if interpreted along with parent choice data, offers a starting point from which the country can work to close the child care gap.
Working closely with officials from each state, chosen for their political and geographic diversity, this analysis incorporates the most comprehensive child care supply data collected to date and uses an advanced methodology that factors in real parent choices to quantify the number of children under six whose working parents do not have reasonable driving access to formal child care.
BPC’s new mapping tool can be used to quantify these gaps at a number of geographic levels ranging from congressional districts and counties to metropolitan areas and Opportunity Zones. The full report outlines how federal, state, and local policymakers can bring in real parent choice information to properly interpret these findings and use them to expand the supply of child care in a manner that reflects the additional amount of child care communities actually need. The report also outlines insights BPC gleaned from the data collection process that illuminate specific ways states can optimize the types of child care data they collect.
“When there are changes to the system, the availability of child care access data is even more important,” says Linda Smith, director of BPC’s Early Childhood Initiative. “We believe that the data collection recommendations, child care gap findings, and new parent choice information presented in this analysis can help the country take data-driven steps toward ensuring the child care system can recover and recover in a way that builds a more stable and accessible system for the future.”