In the final days leading up to the election, a Colorado-based foundation has put the presidential candidates and members of Congress on notice: the American economy will not recover without addressing the growing national childcare crisis.

Percentage of petition signatures by state for the CareForAllChildren 2020 online petition urging presidential candidates to make affordable childcare a priority.

Even before the pandemic, almost half of families with children under age 5 struggled to find quality, affordable childcare. In 2020, the problem has grown far worse because many facilities shut down to protect the health of kids and staff, only accepted children of essential workers, or closed for financial reasons. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 40% of America’s childcare centers are expected to close permanently due to the pandemic.

New research by the University of Oregon’s RAPID-EC Research Group indicates that almost half of working families will not have childcare options as they try to return to work – a potential loss of 4.5 million spots for children. If parents do not have affordable, quality childcare, they cannot return to work to help rebuild economic momentum. Also lost is critical developmental and early childhood educational opportunities for children that determine their future success in every possible way.

“This is a crisis within a crisis,” stated Sue Renner, Executive Director of the David and Laura Merage Foundation who is leading CareForAllChildren and a member of the Colorado Early Childhood Leadership Commission. “With the loss of over four million childcare spots nationwide, parents are struggling to get back to work full-time. There are just no viable options for working families. And, of course, we are very concerned about the long-term developmental impact for children who benefit from early learning interventions. We need leadership from both sides of the aisle to come together and recognize this as a significant national crisis. That’s why we are raising this issue as a matter of national economic security from Maine to California with both President Trump and Vice President Biden and every member of Congress.”

In 2016 alone, an estimated 2 million parents made career sacrifices due to problems with childcare. American businesses, meanwhile, lose an estimated $12.7 billion annually because of their employees’ childcare challenges. Nationally, the cost of lost earnings, productivity, and revenue due to the childcare crisis totals an estimated $57 billioneach year. Economic pressures are expected to grow well into 2021 as the economic slowdown meets the childcare crisis. That’s why over 15,000 parents and their advocates have signed a petition to prioritize childcare affordability in the first term of 2021, and re-engineer childcare financing to shore up the system that is the foundation for so many, particularly as we come together to re-open the U.S. and shore up the economy.

Prioritization of the childcare crisis has support from voters across the political spectrum, with 90 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents, and 70 percent of Republicans saying that they would support efforts in Congress to increase funding for childcare assistance and to expand access to early learning. American working parents are ready to get back to work. Are you ready to help them get there? We urge you to champion a coherent, equitable childcare system for working families and their children in the first 100 days of the first term.

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