Nurturing the Caregiving Economy
Among the pandemic’s many misfortunes is a tendency to escalate challenges to full-blown crises. Access to quality, affordable child care has been no exception. Several factors stemming from the pandemic and lockdowns have converged to create double-edged disruptions for the industry’s consumers and its providers. The resulting pricing and availability issues have created ripple effects throughout the broader economy, with implications for virtually every industry.
Recognizing that a rising child care industry can lift all others, CAEL has long included the sector in its career pathway mapping and other workforce development initiatives. In 2019, we partnered with the Santa Cruz County Workforce Development Board in support of its work to address a local shortage of workers for the early childhood (ECE) industry. With the national importance of ECE only growing since then, we have issued a research brief leveraging this work within the context of challenges and opportunities facing an equitable post-pandemic recovery.
Fortunately, we are not alone. Based on interviews with experts in the industry, the Urban Institute released a research report in February outlining 19 state and local policy strategies in support of the child care workforce. In March, the Center for Law and Social Policy published a state-by-state summary of the child care relief provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. And most recently, the Aspen Institute hosted a webinar in which a panel of “policy and practice experts, cultural leaders, and caregivers” discussed how policy measures might elevate the child care industry in a way that equitably benefits both its workers and the families who depend on them. And Ruth Bauer White, who leads our fellow Strada Education Network affiliate InsideTrack, recently wrote an op ed that includes tips on how postsecondary institutions and student parents can access funding and other resources to help meet child care needs.
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