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COVID-19 Impact on Childcare

Childcare is a two-generation workforce issue, essential to support the workforce of today and vital to develop our workforce of tomorrow. Parents rely on childcare to help them enter, re-enter, or remain in the workforce, but access to affordable, quality childcare is hard to come by. Now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families are experiencing additional challenges and finding childcare is nearly impossible.

At the same time, the majority of childcare across the country is provided by small business owners. Many of these businesses have closed temporarily due to health and safety concerns. For those businesses that are open, they now have increased operational costs to keep kids and staff safe but greatly reduced revenue due to capacity limitations. Parents are trying to balance childcare and work, childcare providers are trying to stay open or re-open with an unsustainable new business model, and employers are trying to determine how and when their working parents can return to work. 

To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on childcare, we will seek to understand these challenges from every angle, including the revised childcare equations of parents, employer solutions, and childcare provider needs and capacity constraints. We'll be sharing new data accompanied by the stories behind those numbers over the next several months. The childcare challenges are persistent and complex--further complicated by this public health crisis. By understanding the diverse perspectives of those impacted, we can begin to identify solutions to recover together. 

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The Importance of Childcare to U.S. Families and Businesses

The COVID-19 public health crisis has significantly impacted the lives of working parents trying to balance childcare and work, childcare providers trying to stay open or re-open, and employers trying to determine how and when their working parents can return to work.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation conducted a series of surveys from June to November 2020, to see how the pandemic's impact on childcare has evolved, understand the impact of COVID-19 on childcare observed over time, and how a lack of childcare affects our economy and ability to recover. The research examined the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has created in relation to childcare, and the hard choices parents, employers, and policymakers have had to make. 

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Impact on the Childcare Industry

Prior to the pandemic, there were approximately 675,000 childcare providers in this country, predominately small businesses, who were already operating on thin margins. The public health crisis of COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the childcare industry. In the spring of 2020, many childcare providers closed their programs to follow public health guidance, leading to lost revenue for weeks and months at a time. While many providers have now re-opened as states have begun to open up, they are still operating with limited capacity and increased operational costs. Read more about the unique experiences of the providers who are trying to weather this crisis and care for the young children of working parents. 

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Key Findings:

Working Parents & the Childcare Dilemma

The COVID-19 public health crisis has underscored the essential nature of childcare for working parents, the larger workforce, and the economy. Childcare is important for children, and it is essential for working parents. Parents rely on childcare to help them enter, re-enter, or remain in the workforce, but access to affordable, quality childcare is hard to come by. Now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families are experiencing additional challenges in finding childcare that meets their needs. We conducted two surveys, first in June then again in August, to examine the impact of COVID-19 on working parents.

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Key Findings:

Employers & Returning to Work

COVID-19 has changed the business and talent landscape, and employers must re-think childcare assistance, benefits, and accommodations in these unique times. Families now face immense pressure to re-evaluate how to meet their childcare needs. Faced with this burden, families are having to make tough decisions regarding their employment situation. As a result, businesses will surely encounter difficulties with their return to work plans, including recruiting and retaining employees. We conducted two surveys, once over the summer then again in October, to examine the impact of COVID-19 on employers.

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Key Findings:

View the early childhood education blog posts here.

Production Credits:

  • Data: Cicero Group
  • Reports: Polygraph Creative
  • Video: Kindling Group, Siskel/Jacobs Productions