According to a recent article in the Denver Post, not all pandemic-related problems have eased. COVID-19 underlined many inequities and weaknesses in our system, and those involving the child care industry still persist. The price and availability of child care continue to create strains for families across the country. Parents are often placed on waiting lists, for example in Colorado there are about 75,000 more children under 6 whose parents are working than there are licensed day care spots, according to the Bell Policy Center.
According to a recently published report in USA Today, the child care industry in the United States has been one of the industries hit hardest by worker shortages. The closing of most day care centers early in the pandemic resulted in over 373,000 employees laid off or furloughed. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the industry has only recovered 70% of its pre-pandemic workforce.
The childcare staff shortage has caused childcare centers to be stretched thin, forced to reduce capacity and often increasing costs for parents and caregivers. Childcare workers bear a heavy workload due to the shortage, and parents unable to find affordable and reliable childcare must often leave the workforce themselves.
When the Coronavirus pandemic forced daycares and schools to close, many Canadians, especially women, had to reduce their work hours or leave their jobs entirely. According to Statistics Canada, more than 48% of Canadian parents struggle to find affordable childcare, leading to 27% delaying their return to work and 41% adjusting their work schedules to accommodate caregiving.
An Angus Reid poll found that more than 70% of Canadians favour a national childcare program. The upcoming election will give Canadians their say on which plan they prefer, with the Liberal Party advocating for government subsidization that results in C$10/day childcare costs for families. The Conservatives prefer offering up to C$6,000 per year to parents to help them pay for childcare costs.
From Reuters: 39 million U.S. households will be issued monthly federal checks started Thursday as part of a massive expansion of the child tax credit. The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University estimates that the expansion can lift 5 million children out of poverty and reduce the U.S. child poverty rate by up to 45%.
The approach is notable both for its wide reach – the checks issued this week will reach nearly 90% of U.S. children, according to Internal Revenue Service estimates – and for distributing half the money monthly instead of in one lump at tax time.
The program, which is not limited to low-income families, is being likened to a universal basic income for children. Single parents earning up to $75,000 and couples making up to $150,000 can receive the full credit.
Under changes made by the American Rescue Plan passed in March, families will receive up to $3,600 for every child under age 6 and $3,000 for those ages 6 to 17, up from $2,000 per child. A minimum income requirement was removed and the credit was made fully refundable, making it more accessible to parents who don’t work and those with low tax bills.
Shared via HealthAffairs.org: A growing body of research indicates that early child care and education may lead to improvements in short- and long-term health-related outcomes for children.
Most children in the US attend early care and education (ECE) such as public or private preschool, child care centers, or Head Start before entering kindergarten.
High-quality ECE programs can promote positive educational, social-emotional, and behavioral outcomes.
Intensive, high-quality, model ECE programs, such as Abecedarian and the Infant Health and Development Program, have strong, lasting health benefits.
Investments in ECE programs, particularly those with health components, may provide lasting health benefits for participants.
There is a need for additional research on the effects of contemporary public and private early childhood programs on children’s health and the mechanisms underlying these effects.
“Early care and education (ECE) includes settings in which children are cared for and taught by people other than their parents or primary caregivers with whom they live. These include center-based care arrangements (for example, child care centers, preschools, and prekindergartens) and nonparental home-based arrangements, in which care is provided in the child’s or caregiver’s home (for example, care by nannies, relatives, or babysitters and in family child care homes, which are regulated settings in which a caregiver cares for multiple unrelated children in her own home). Home visiting programs, in which a visitor spends time with children while the parents are present, are not considered ECE.”