Millions of Americans rely on child care just to be able to work each day.

When parents can’t go to work because it is too costly or too difficult to find care for their young children, our economy suffers. The COVID-19 pandemic stretched an already-strained child care system so thin that it put as many as 4.5 million child care slots at risk. While Congress worked with both the Trump and Biden administrations to make an essential down payment on stabilizing the industry, the devastating effects of the child care crisis still linger and the root causes of the industry’s near collapse persist.

Even before the pandemic, child care was inaccessible and unaffordable to many American families. Half of Americans live in areas where the supply of licensed child care is scarce, and as many as 2.7 million children under age six were in need of child care but could not get a spot. The average cost of child care was $10,000-15,000 per year, forcing many families to choose between paying other essential bills and finding care for their young children.

During the pandemic, the American economy took a direct hit due to limits of the child care system. As providers were forced to cut capacity or close their doors, women left the workforce in swarms, bringing women’s workforce participation rate down to a historic low. Even parents who remained in the labor force had to reduce working hours, pass on promotions, or switch their job status. State economies lost billions of dollars due to child care breakdowns; as did businesses and individual households.

The pandemic also shed light on the financial hardships facing the child care industry. Many providers went out of business months into government-mandated shutdowns; others were forced to shut their doors due to increased operating costs and reduced enrollment revenue. The child care workforce, 40% of which are minorities and almost entirely female, lost more than 150,000 jobs by the end of 2020.

Child care will be the backbone of America’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the differentiator that can create a competitive workforce for future growth. Let’s make child care work so that Americans can get back to work.

Our economy is at stake.


of parents who have not yet returned to the workforce cite child care as a reason.


The annual economic losses due to lack of child care range from $500 million to $3.5 billion in each state.


A lack of child care causes businesses to lose an estimated $4.4 billion annually due to employee absenteeism.


Parents lose about $30-35 billion in income as they reduce working hours or leave the workforce given unaffordable ECE costs.

More Relief Is Needed To Keep America Working

Congress and the Biden administration made an important down payment on stabilizing America’s child care industry, but there’s so much more work to be done. The only way this country can avoid another child care crisis in the future is if Congress provide the support and investment needed to rebuild and put the industry on a sustainable path that meets the needs of hardworking American families.

Action Center

If you are a struggling parent or caregiver, we have assembled all of the resources that are available to you and provided a way for you to tell your story to Members of Congress so they can see what more needs to be done. Take action now to speak to Congress directly.