High Quality Childcare is Out of Reach for Many

Across the country, working families have one thing in common: a need to find safe, affordable, quality care for their children. In 35 states, the cost of childcare now exceeds public college tuition, pricing it beyond the reach of even many middle class families. Worse yet, families who do find reasonably priced care can be stuck on waiting lists for years. With spiraling costs and fierce competition for a place in the best early education centers, it’s no wonder so many families struggle to find quality childcare.

The Quality of Childcare is Important

The issue of childcare quality and accessibility is significant not only for families but also for the country we will become. After all, children’s experiences in the first years of life significantly affect their long-term cognitive, social, and emotional development. Center-based childcare is an early educational opportunity for children, one that has the potential to set them on a path to life-long success. There's no denying that children enrolled in high-quality childcare have an advantage when they reach kindergarten, which translates into stronger academic achievement and even adult outcomes.

Children Who Would Benefit Most, Often Don't Get It

High-quality early care can even mediate the negative effects that poverty and stress have on early brain development. Children raised in poverty need quality childcare most of all. Unfortunately, the kids who would most benefit from high quality care and education are the least likely to get it. While close to 90 percent of children whose parents make one hundred thousand dollars or more a year enroll in preschool, closer to half (55%) of children whose parents make between twenty and thirty thousand will make it into high quality care. This is because poor families often can’t afford the high cost of quality care, or because good care centers aren’t located where their families live and work. If we want all children in Shelby County to start school ready to thrive, we must support policies and initiatives that increase access to high-quality early care for all families.