New Analysis Highlights Unsustainable State Of Child Care Due To Low Enrollment And Increased Operating Costs


A new column from the Center for American Progress (CAP) demonstrates that child care providers are struggling financially as they continue operating on reduced revenues and increased costs. Based on data from the Early Milestones Colorado survey, the article uses Colorado to illustrate how lack of public funding endangers invaluable child care infrastructure across the country.

Key findings include:

  • Enrollment in early care and education is only 52% of pre-pandemic levels. This means that 56,000 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in Colorado have not returned to child care.
  • As of July, 23%, or around 4,000 members of the Colorado child care workforce were laid off or furloughed. Many of them were women or operated minority-owned businesses.
  • Pre-K programs were most affected by the enrollment decline, losing over 70% of their children. Child care centers and home-based programs were able to retain 52% and 66% of their pre-pandemic enrollment respectively.

These statistics shed light on the need for additional federal relief, as programs that received some form of public assistance saw less severe declines in enrollment and were able to retain more educators. “If child care were publicly funded rather than funded largely by parental tuition and fees,” CAP researchers imagine, “the industry’s ability to withstand the pandemic would play out more similarly to that of K-12 schools, which may close in the short term but will retain their staff and facilities so that they can reopen when it is safe to do so.”

“These early data from Colorado show that child care providers are in an untenable position, with fewer children and families to serve and greater expenses to cover,” the analysis concludes. “Action is needed now—before we lose this crucial economic infrastructure.”

Read the full column here.