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Why child care needs direct spending, not just tax credits, during COVID-19 and beyond

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Robbins, K. G., Boteach, M., & Kashen, J.
Publication Date: 
1 Jan 2021

Excerpted from introduction

The COVID pandemic has pushed child care and early learning to the brink, with the sector losing one in six jobs and thousands of providers on the verge of shutting their doors. The pandemic has especially harmed communities of color, as women of color are disproportionately represented in the early education workforce and families of color have all too often struggled to find and afford care, even before the pandemic. As we look to recover, families are likely to face a dearth of care options, putting parents in impossible situations and undermining employers’ ability to recruit and retain workers and workers’ ability to be productive on the job.

To support child care through COVID and to ensure a robust recovery and an equitable economy in the future, child care requires at least $50 billion in direct public spending to support providers and families.

While a tax credit targeting families’ child care costs can play a small, complementary role in helping to offset the cost of care for families, addressing the range of urgent needs in the child care crisis before us requires an influx of public investment through relief funds and a significant down payment in mandatory child care spending to start building the child care system that an equitable recovery demands.