Federal policymakers on both sides of the aisle are seriously considering significant investments in, and structural changes to, our nation’s early care and education system. As our nation looks to build a stronger post-pandemic economy, there is no better time to make these critical investments keeping in mind the lessons learned about our fragmented child care system’s shortcomings.
- To support parent choice, early care and education programs must be offered in a variety of community-based settings including in centers, family child care homes, and faith-based providers.
- To reduce duplication, inconsistencies, and overlap, any federal funding should be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination and collaboration with other federal agencies wherever appropriate.
- To ensure programs support the needs of working families, policymakers must pair funding with local flexibility and innovation.
- To ensure an adequate supply of care, especially for infants and toddlers, investments must recognize and support the child care business model.
As we’ve written before, creating new programs outside the existing system is not the answer to many of the pre-existing structural inefficiencies and financial shortcomings that prevent the child care ecosystem from working most effectively. Existing federal programs—namely the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Head Start programs—need more investments and better coordination and collaboration.
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