Child Care is Essential and Needs Emergency Support to Survive
On this page, NAEYC is posting updates regarding highlighted resources, actions and advocacy opportunities in response to the coronavirus pandemic. You can also access updates and briefs on NAEYC's surveys of child care providers and programs at www.naeyc.org/pandemic-surveys as well as resources and supports related to the SBA loans, including the Paycheck Protection Program, via NAEYC's COVID-19 Resources page.
Child care is the backbone of our nation’s response to disaster and the road to recovery. Yet programs and providers are in crisis, and their viability—and therefore the viability of our nation’s economy—is dependent on substantial, additional, and direct investment from federal and state governments. We urge Congress to provide needed additional, dedicated, substantial investments in child care and early learning so the essential child care workforce in this $99 billion industry can continue to support children, families and the American economy through this crisis and the coming recovery.
Thank you for joining us to mobilize and elevate the voices and needs of early learning programs across the country, and for supporting us in being a steady, and unrelenting voice for this profession, young children, and their families.
Compensation Matters Most: Why and How States Should Use Child Care Relief Funding to Increase Compensation for the Early Childhood Education Workforce - (June 2021)
Early childhood educators’ work is complex. But the crisis they face is stark, and the consequences of inaction are clear: either we increase compensation for the early childhood education workforce, or we will be left with no workforce at all.
Due to the chronic and systemic underfunding of our nation’s early childhood education (ECE) systems, early childhood educators have a long history of leaving child care centers and family child care homes, sometimes for public school settings, where they have been able to earn more money and benefits for doing the same kind of work. This well-worn journey, which reflects rational economic decision-making and still frequently benefits children within the 0-8 developmental age span, has nevertheless systematically increased inequities and contributed to disparities between early childhood education settings, age bands, and funding streams. Some early childhood educators, however, leave not for public school settings, but for retail or warehouse jobs entirely outside the realm of education, where they can also make more money; get access to benefits; and (while subject to other sets of challenges) avoid the indignities of being paid less than minimum wage for a job that requires extensive and complex knowledge, skills, competencies and experience. Read the full compensation brief.
NAEYC Statement on ECE Prioritization for Vaccines
The essential yet chronically undervalued child care sector has sacrificed and struggled to serve children and families since the start of the COVID pandemic. The early childhood educators working in child care settings, including centers and family child care homes, must now be prioritized to voluntarily receive a COVID-19 vaccine in a way that reflects their essential role and their parity with K-12 teachers and frontline workers.
NAEYC strongly urges every state to make vaccines available, accessible and affordable for all educators working with children beginning at birth in the earliest stages of the vaccine rollout. This includes addressing the need for paid sick time in order to ensure educators who choose to get the vaccine are able to do so, while addressing the time off they may need to accommodate any potential side effects.
Early childhood educators from communities of color may be fearful and mistrustful of the vaccine based on our nation's history of racist medical practices and experiments. Given this, and the reality that these same communities have been disproportionately affected by the harm of the pandemic, we call on every state to develop intentional outreach to build back trust, allay fears, and provide clear, fact-based information about the vaccine.
Child care providers have been fighting every day to serve and support children, families, and the American economy, often at great risk to themselves and their families. It is appropriate, fair, and important that they are provided priority access to the vaccine on par with their fellow educators and essential workers who have and will keep this country running through this crisis, recovery, and beyond.
Families Suffer Without Relief from Congress
In the absence of federal relief, struggling child care programs trying to remain open to serve children and families in their communities are being faced with stark choices. Learn more about what programs are doing, and how families are paying the price via two new-one pagers from NAEYC: Families Suffer Without Relief From Congress and Child Care Programs Are Being Forced to Raise Tuition or Close for Good.
Join NAEYC and partners on several Wednesdays in September to #SaveChildCare. On September 16, we focus on sharing the need for Congressional support for child care AND K-12 schools, as the new school year begins and parents, child care providers, teachers, and school administrators and staff are all being left without needed support. More than 125 state and national organizations, representing nearly 10 million families and educators working with children of all ages, wrote an open letter to Congress, which you can find here: https://bit.ly/3hBfc2p along with our press release here.
On September 23, we focus on the disappearing foundation and supply of child care, and the burden being placed on children and families. The toolkit you can use is here.
Statement on the House passage of the Child Care is Essential and Child Care for Economic Recovery Acts (July 29)
UPDATE (October 1): Read NAEYC's Statement after the passage of the revised HEROES Act, which included $57 billion for child care.
After decades of being undervalued and underfunded, and on the verge of a collapse caused by insufficient investment in response to the public and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the child care sector moved two exciting steps closer to being recognized as essential in Congress this week. While Senate Republicans proposed a $15 billion investment in child care, a bipartisan group of House Representatives passed the Child Care is Essential Act alongside the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, which together would provide more than $60 billion to stabilize this crucial industry so that families returning to work can find quality, reliable care for their children over time.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is grateful to Congressional leaders for listening to their constituents - to parents, early childhood educators, and business leaders - and voicing their support of child care. We urge those same leaders to now meet the needs of those same constituents by including $50 billion for child care in the next COVID-19 relief package. Learn more about the consequences for our children, families, educators, programs, and nation if these public investments don't come at naeyc.org/pandemic-surveys. Child care providers are barely hanging on, and it is urgent for Congress to prioritize child care in the negotiations process so that the essential child care workforce in this $99 billion industry can continue to support children, families, and the American economy through this crisis, recovery, and beyond.
#SaveChildCare Day of Action: Thursday, July 16
Join NAEYC, partners, and your fellow educators, families, and allies in a #SaveChildCare Day of Action! We need all hands on deck to call, email, and tweet at every member of Congress until they get it: child care must be a priority in the next stimulus package. With thanks to our partners at the Child Care Relief campaign and the Center for American Progress, we have two toolkits you can use and share:
You can also access NAEYC's newest toolkit, to help educators and advocates hold Virtual Congressional Meetings. If you're interested in meeting with your federally elected officials, email Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
Holding on Until Help Comes: A Survey Reveals Child Care's Fight to Survive (July 13)
The lack of sufficient public investment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced child care programs, educators, and families into a series of impossible choices with devastating consequences. A new NAEYC brief (with state-by-state data available here and on this map) demonstrates that only 18% of programs are confident they will be able to stay open past a year without public assistance. 50% of minority-owned programs are certain they will have to close without the help they need. 86% of child care programs who responded to our survey are serving fewer children now than they were prior to the pandemic and 63% of programs across all settings expect to be operating at or below 80% of enrollment past the end of this summer. This data makes it clear that if help doesn’t come soon in order to save child care, there will be little left of child care to save.
Child Care & the Paycheck Protection Program (May 12)
A new NAEYC brief highlights the experiences of nearly 500 child care programs across the country who have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program. Based on respondent feedback, we have learned that while the PPP has bought some child care programs critical time with which to pay themselves and their employees and cover some of their fixed costs, entire segments of the market, particularly family child care homes, have been essentially unable to access the program and its benefits.
From the Front Lines: The Ongoing Effect of the Pandemic on Child Care (April 17)
NAEYC is releasing new survey data that begins to explore the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the solutions that have been put forth so far. From April 2–10, more than 5,000 providers responded to the survey, from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Together, these survey respondents alone serve upwards of 215,000 children. Read From the Front Lines: The Ongoing Effect of the Pandemic on Child Care and A State-by State Look at the Ongoing Effects of the Pandemic on Child Care.
Tell Us About The Impact of COVID-19 on Your Child Care Programs (April 2)
From March 12-25, 11,500 educators from across the country completed our original COVID-19 Survey: Effects of the Pandemic on Child Care. You can find the national results from that survey here, along with state-by-state information here. The data from this survey has been incredibly important both in shaping federal and state responses and driving media stories that reflect the scope of our nation’s current child care crisis. Hearing directly from you has been, and continues to be, invaluable and powerful.
However, the response to this pandemic is changing on a near-daily basis and it is necessary that we continue learning more about your current realities and experiences to further our collective understanding about what you're facing and what help you need. Complete our new survey to help organizations and policymakers support your programs in surviving this devastating pandemic. Thank you so much for everything you’re doing, and for sharing your experiences so that organizations and policymakers can understand your challenges and improve on the solutions.
A State-by-State Look at Child Care in Crisis: Understanding Early Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic (March 31)
On March 12, as the country was beginning to recognize the ways in which the spread of the coronavirus would jeopardize lives and livelihoods, NAEYC developed a brief survey asking child care programs to share the challenges they were expecting to face and to comment on what they needed to protect children, families, and our nation’s supply of child care programs. By March 25, 11,500 individuals from all 50 states and the District of Columbia had responded to the survey, 34% of whom work in center-based child care, and 53% who work in family child care homes. Initial national data is summarized in this “Child Care in Crisis” brief alongside NAEYC’s initial recommendations for state action.
Statement from NAEYC on Passage of the CARES Act (March 27)
Early childhood educators and providers need support to weather the emergency that is upon us and to be there for the recovery that will come. NAEYC is grateful to Congress for taking an important, bipartisan step to provide support for educators and providers with the passage of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, signed into law today. Read our full statement here.
Congress Needs to #FundChildCare in the Emergency Stimulus Package (March 22)
On March 18, NAEYC joined many of the nation's leading child advocacy organizations to send a letter to Congress detailing essential recommendations for lawmakers to consider as they develop an economic stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 crisis. To keep the momentum going, and as Congress continues to debate the third COVID-19 stimulus package, we need you to join thousands of your fellow educators, advocates, and allies for a #FundChildCare Twitter Storm on Monday, March 23 from 10:00 am EST to let them know we need $50 billion in emergency funding to keep the child care industry from collapsing.
Child Care in Crisis: Understanding the Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic (March 17)
At least one thing has been made clear in this difficult week: child care is essential and early childhood educators are a crucial part of our nation's fabric. Last week, we asked you to share and complete a brief survey regarding your experiences and challenges, and tonight we share the first release from that data gathering, taking a national look at key responses from more than 6,000 programs across all states and settings.
Child Care is Essential and Emergency Support is Needed (March 15)
Download the PDF here or continue reading below.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is committed to the health and wellbeing of young children and all who care for, educate, and work on their behalf. As a public health matter; and in order to meet the goals of flattening the curve to save lives, NAEYC believes that if states and districts are closing schools, then they also must close the child care system. Simultaneously, however, select licensed child care centers and family child care homes should be allowed to and/or instructed to reopen or remain open on a limited basis in order to serve the children of emergency responders and other essential personnel (as defined by the state or locality) for whom remote work is not an option.
Governors and leaders of health care systems have made it clear that child care is an "essential service,” without which we will not be able to effectively respond to this pandemic. Given that reality, state and federal governments are obligated to support its continued existence across states and settings, including programs who support families with child care subsidies, and those who do not. Federal and state action must include providing significant, flexible, and additional funding to child care, through multiple mechanisms including the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), accompanied by policies that increase financing flexibility, waive co-pays, increase eligibility, and move everyone permanently from attendance-based payment policies to enrollment-based policies.
In addition, for programs that remain open to serve those who need it, they must be provided with a version of "hazardous duty" pay, in which they are guaranteed additional funding to ensure they are able to pay substitutes, provide 24-hour coverage, and get access to supplies and resources needed to keep the environment safe and healthy. They also need access to public funds for paid family and sick leave to cover staff that, in following the recommendations of public health personnel, have to take time off to maintain their own health or care for family members and limit the spread of the virus.
States also should recognize that this is not the time to eliminate or suspend licensing rules or stand up new, untested, and unmonitored child care programs that will compromise the health and safety of children, their families, and the community at large. Providing child care in the best of times requires complex skills. In times of chaos and trauma, skilled and trusted early childhood educators are needed more than ever to support children and families and keep them safe. To ensure families are as comfortable and confident as possible with their children’s care in this challenging moment, states should consider waiving very specific requirements around the age band programs can serve, so that any program in a center or home that is set up to care for the young children of essential personnel also can care for their older children.
Additional actions also are needed to protect the supply of child care in all settings in states and communities, including in programs who are not currently serving families with a child care subsidy. Data from a survey NAEYC has distributed in the last several days indicates that many child care centers and homes are not going to be able to survive a closure; up to a third in some states indicate they won't survive a closure of any period—another third won't survive a closure of more than two weeks. In other words, a temporary closure is, for many, a permanent one.
Child care is not like the K-12 system in which schools will be able to reopen and educators will be compensated regardless of the length of time schools are closed. Staff must be compensated during closures, and child care programs, across states and settings, therefore need significant investments if they are going to survive—and this moment has made it clear how essential it is for child care to do so, for the good of children, families, businesses, and our nation’s safety, security, and economy.
For that reason, the public sector must provide support to ensure the continued existence of this essential system, which keeps children safe and America working, not only through the already-underfunded subsidy system, but through other mechanisms as well, including:
- Alongside actions taken by the federal government to increase access to paid leave and unemployment insurance, states must ensure that all child care system closures are accompanied by additional, necessary policies and funding that allows for access to unemployment compensation for all staff who work in center-based child care or own/operate or are staff of family child care homes.
- States and the federal government need to ensure that child care programs, in centers and homes, are automatically enrolled in mortgage forbearance, provided rent deferrals, and support for utility and insurance payments, for a minimum of three months and up to six months.
- If programs are licensed and, as an example, enrolled in the state's quality system, they should be provided with access to capital through grants and, if necessary, zero-interest loans that will allow them to cover costs upfront with the expectation that they will be paid back within a set period from the start of the loan
States should also plan to implement a strong outreach and communications plan, utilizing licensing, subsidy, and/or the child care resource and referral systems, to ensure families know about and are aware of their options, with communications provided in all relevant languages.
Ten Steps States and Districts That Are Closing Public Schools Can Take for Child Care
1. Close child care systems alongside K-12 systems, with the provision for select, licensed child care providers in centers and homes that can operate in order to serve the children of emergency responders and other essential personnel for whom remote work is not an option.
2. Alongside actions taken by the federal government to increase access to paid leave and unemployment insurance, ensure that all child care system closures are accompanied by additional, necessary policies and funding that allows for access to unemployment compensation for all staff who work in center-based child care or own/operate or are staff of family child care homes.
3. Invest additional states’ dollars in child care and ensure subsidy payment policy is modified to waive co-pays; increase eligibility; and pay based on enrollment and not attendance.
4. Automatically enroll all child care programs, in centers and homes, in mortgage forbearance, provide rent deferrals, and ensure support for utility and insurance payments, for a minimum of three months and up to six months.
5. Provide programs that are licensed and enrolled in the state's quality monitoring system with access to capital through grants and, if necessary, a zero-interest loan that will allow them to cover costs upfront, with the expectation it will be paid back within a set period from the start of the loan.
6. Do not eliminate or suspend licensing rules or stand up new, untested, and unmonitored child care programs; this will compromise the health and safety of children, families, and the community at large. States can, however, give center and home-based child care programs that typically serve young children the ability to serve older children of the emergency responders and other essential personnel who cannot work remotely.
7. Provide a version of "hazardous duty” pay to select child care programs that are being asked to remain open to serve essential and front-line workers, in which the programs are provided additional funding to cover the increased risks and costs of maintaining services. Providers should be given clear guidance on how to remain safe and practice social distancing and minimal contact while continuing to provide the quality care children and families need.
8. Provide separate and adequate payments that ensure providers are able to utilize substitutes, provide 24-hour coverage, and get access to supplies and resources needed to keep the environment safe and healthy. Ensure programs are aware of and have access to public funds for paid family and sick leave to cover staff who, following the recommendations of public health personnel, have to take time off to limit the spread of the virus or care for themselves or family members.
9. Implement a strong outreach and communications plan, utilizing licensing, subsidy, and/or the child care resource and referral systems, to ensure families know about and are aware of their options, with communications provided in all relevant languages.
10. Include at least two child care providers, who are based in centers and homes, in advisory groups for emergency management agencies in order to provide input on how best to respond to changing circumstances and environments.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research. We advance a diverse, dynamic early childhood profession and support all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of young children. The association comprises nearly 60,000 individual members of the early childhood community and more than 50 Affiliates, all committed to delivering on the promise of high-quality early learning. Together, we work to achieve a collective vision: that all young children thrive and learn in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential.