Key Findings: DC Can’t Have Economic Recovery Without Child Care Investments

Child care worker engaging with two children.
May 12, 2020
Blog Post

Investments in early learning are clearly a necessity for reopening the District and supporting long-term economic recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed and compounded existing issues of access, quality, equity and funding in DC’s early learning (or “child care”) system for families with infants, toddlers and children too young to attend elementary school. This system was already fragile financially before the pandemic — with programs operating on thin margins — and will not survive unless dedicated recovery funding is provided. Workers with young children will not return to work without safe and affordable child care.

The Under 3 DC coalition recently conducted a survey of 106 child care providers based in the District of Columbia to learn more about how their small businesses are weathering the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings were combined with data pulled from a National Association for the Education of Young Children survey. The DC Association for the Education of Young Children analyzed the survey findings from the 85 respondents who are based in the DC.

It was designed to help policymakers, funders, and advocates make informed decisions about where resources are needed most in DC to support families with young children as businesses begin to reopen and temporary work-from-home options are phased out. After loss in revenue, lack of child care is the most common concern among small business owners amid COVID-19.

Key Findings

  • Even with the option to remain open, 83% of DC child care programs closed out of concern for the health and safety of children, families and staff.
  • The top three reopening concerns of child care providers are additional costs (90%), reduced enrollment (70%) and insufficient revenue (60%).
  • Thousands of child care slots are at risk of being lost. DC’s child care supply of licensed child care slots could decrease 20% (6,500 slots) without dedicated public funding support.
  • By providing long-term child care stabilization funds, DC can maintain child care slots as businesses build back to full capacity so that child and staff safety — not funding needs — drive provider decisions about how and when to increase capacity.

Read the full report, including the joint key takeaways and recommendations on the looming and overlooked child care crisis.