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The pandemic made plain how essential child care is to a functioning economy; women's labor force participation hit a three-decade low as mothers left the workforce to take on the lion's share of caregiving


... But, even before the pandemic, the child care economy was broken

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Figure 1. Difference in Prime-Age Labor Force Participation Rates, January 2020 Baseline, The Hamilton Project, Brookings

Figure 2. Child Care Market Failure

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Reliance on a market-based system for setting prices means that, on one hand, low- and moderate-income parents cannot afford high-quality care, on the other, child care is one of the most underpaid fields in the United States 


Parents who cannot find child care, sit out of the workforce, earn less, and cannot contribute to the economy

Children who miss out on quality early care and education start kindergarten behind, which leads to a lifetime of inequitable health and wealth outcomes**

Adopting policies that dramatically expand subsidized child care and boost wages is essential


But we also must expand the supply of high-quality care, particularly in child care deserts

Sector-specific workforce development strategies will both expand the supply and make jobs in the child care economy better

Figure 3. Interdependence in the Child Care Economy

Figure 4. Virtuous Circle of High-Quality Home-Based  Child Care


Nearly 3 in 4 home child care entrepreneurs in California are women of color, including undocumented immigrants 


Home-based child care business owners can earn family-sustaining incomes by applying sound business administration practices


Preparing women to run high-quality programs increases economic opportunity for owners, parents, and children 

Child care businesses start, struggling businesses are viable, small businesses expand

Marginalized entrepreneurs earn more & build wealth

Supply of quality care increases in child care deserts

Parents work and build economic security


Children build skills to succeed in school, leading to intergenerational health and wealth outcomes


Xavier Cortada, Dreaming of A World Free of Poverty, World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003

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