Jen Bump
Senior Advisor


February 20, 2020


The research in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2017 report, Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow, backs the argument that high-quality childcare is critical both to adults in the workforce and their children. Seventy percent of American mothers with children are in the workforce today – and that means millions of children need high-quality, affordable childcare during work hours. Further, high-quality childcare has a demonstrably positive influence on a child’s growth and development, now and throughout life.

A two-generation approach is needed to ensure today’s workforce can make productive contributions now, while tomorrow’s workforce is prepared and positioned to take on what the future holds. America’s need for high-quality, affordable childcare is so great, it will take efforts by all of us to make the system work.

Child Care Aware® of America, the national membership association for CCR&Rs, has focused on the supply, demand, cost, and quality of childcare for over three decades. As indicated by CCR&R and other census and demographic data, the current childcare landscape presents many challenges for working parents.

  • The price of childcare is unaffordable. Next to housing costs and college tuition, childcare is one of the highest expenses a family faces.
  • Millennials, the largest growing workforce population, are disproportionately impacted.
  • More businesses are working around the clock, which means access to childcare during nontraditional hours (outside the 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. timeframe) is essential for working parents.
  • Worse yet, the overall supply of childcare is decreasing at an alarming rate.

You may be thinking, if childcare is so expensive, then shouldn’t childcare businesses be thriving?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Many childcare professionals earn so little that they qualify for government assistance to pay for childcare for their own children. Childcare business owners put in long hours – ensuring children receive the nurturing care they need during the day (and often during the night) and put in even more hours on administrative responsibilities well after children leave.

Simply put: the childcare system is broken.

This is where you, and CCR&Rs, come in.

When CCR&Rs emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as a grassroots effort to address the massive entry of women into the workforce, they focused on helping families find childcare. In the early days, they worked closely with the private sector to provide childcare services directly to businesses that relied on working families.

Today is no different. There are more than 12.8 million children under age six in some form of childcare in the U.S. CCR&Rs are needed as much now as when the work first began.

How CCR&Rs Help Families

CCR&Rs help take the guesswork out of choosing childcare.

  • Trained CCR&R staff provide guidance by phone, in person, and online—all tailored to meet the unique needs of individual families.
  • They provide families with information about childcare options, licensing requirements and how and why to access a state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) when considering a childcare program.
  • CCR&Rs help families access financial support for childcare, including information about Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) vouchers, Head Start, public preschool assistance programs, and tax credits.
  • CCR&Rs play a valuable role connecting families to other public resources like health insurance, heating assistance and food assistance.

How CCR&Rs Build the Supply of Childcare

CCR&Rs provide an entry point to childcare.

  • They recruit and help potential childcare professionals learn about licensing requirements, health and safety regulations, child development, and effective business practices.
  • CCR&Rs work with the public and private sector to combine resources to build and maintain the supply of quality care, targeting areas with the greatest shortages, such as infant/toddler care, nontraditional hours care, and care for children with special needs.

How CCR&Rs Improve the Quality of Childcare

  • CCR&Rs provide training opportunities to childcare administrators and staff – both to meet licensing requirements and to achieve the highest levels of quality.
  • CCR&Rs deliver technical assistance to help professionals implement new skills and knowledge acquired though trainings.
  • In many states, CCR&Rs are the foundation of quality improvement support for childcare professionals, offering mentorship and coaching to childcare programs participating in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS).

How CCR&Rs Help Identify Childcare Needs and Trends

CCR&Rs are the nation’s primary source of data about childcare.

  • They use comprehensive databases to track and monitor trends. They use this data to make informed decisions about where and how to invest resources.
  • CCR&Rs are well positioned to identify underserved populations and pinpoint the most significant gaps in childcare supply and demand.
  • CCR&Rs are the primary source of data that undergird important national childcare reports, including CCAoA’s State Child Care Fact Sheets, our annual report on the U.S. and the High Price of Child Care and our Mapping the Gap work.

How CCR&Rs are Supported at the State Level

In 39 states, CCR&Rs are supported by nonprofit organizations known as State CCR&R Networks. State CCR&R Networks provide coordination and leadership for the state’s CCR&R system and improve the quality and consistency of services for parents, providers, and communities. The CCR&R networks that are funded by their state are best positioned to effectively collaborate and innovate with government officials, the private sector, and community stakeholders to create and support a quality childcare system.

About the authors

Jen Bump