Cover: Promoting Sustainability of Child Care Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Promoting Sustainability of Child Care Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Considerations for States in Allocating Financial Resources

Published in: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation website (2021)

Posted on Oct 18, 2023

by Andrew Burwick, Elizabeth Davis, Lynn A. Karoly, Theresa Schulte, Kathryn Tout

The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic changes in the landscape for child care and early education programs in the United States. Already operating on fragile margins, child care programs have experienced financial upheaval as a result of mandated closures in some states, fluctuating and unpredictable demand for child care, increased health and safety regulations (including decreased ratios and stringent cleaning procedures), and shifts in school district plans for full or partial virtual learning for K–12 education. A June 2020 survey conducted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children of more than 5,000 individuals working in centers and family child care in the United States (not a nationally representative sample) estimated that without assistance two in five programs will close permanently. The survey also found that enrollment in child care programs decreased by two-thirds on average while costs for providers increased. As policymakers consider responses to the child care financial crisis, they must ensure that their decisions reflect the unique financial needs and structures of child care programs. Guidance and technical assistance are needed to support state policymakers in allocating financial resources to promote short- and long-term sustainability of child care programs.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.