The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation today released a new report, "Piecing Together Solutions: An Essential Industry for Economic Recovery," outlining childcare providers' perspectives on how the virus has impacted their businesses, as well as their priorities for the future. The report provides an in-depth look at how providers are struggling to adapt to the new challenges posed by the pandemic, including their inability to shape the decision-making processes that impact them, such as reopening decisions by local school districts.
"Thirteen million parents in the U.S. are supported by childcare providers, but with COVID-19 this industry has reached a breaking point," said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. "Providers are struggling to adapt to factors outside of their control, such as how local school systems approach reopening and the ripple effects those decisions have on childcare programs."
In a series of in-depth conversations, childcare providers of varying types and sizes from across the country highlight how the pandemic has magnified the difficulties they were already experiencing prior to the spread of the virus. The providers underscore how critical it is to re-evaluate the childcare industry to ensure they can keep their doors open to care for children and provide working parents with the access to the high-quality, affordable childcare they need in order to return to work.
Key themes from the study include:
Childcare providers are often excluded from the decision-making processes that impact them. Though childcare is closely tied to—and affected by—how parents return to work and how students return to school, most childcare providers are often excluded from key discussions with their local school districts or the business community.
COVID-19 is putting a financial strain on childcare providers. Decreased enrollment and increased operational costs have left most providers, both for-profit and nonprofit, in an unsustainable financial situation.
Childcare providers are working hard to balance their ability to operate with efforts to keep children healthy. The top priority for providers is understanding how to safely care for young children, knowing that continuing to operate puts staff and children at risk.
In addition to the study, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation produced a video of conversations with childcare providers from California to Texas to Vermont about their experiences operating childcare programs during the pandemic.
This report is part of a series of studies to better understand how childcare challenges affect working parents and their employers. New data will be released over the next several months as key decisions are made on re-opening schools and the economy. To sign up for updates or to learn more about the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s work on early childhood education, visit www.uschamberfoundation.org/early-childhood-education.