us losing childcare centers

A lack of societal support for childcare and the people who provide it was evident to parents long before the pandemic. Finding a day care that was affordable and had a spot available could feel nearly impossible, especially for parents who live in childcare deserts.

Pre-pandemic American parents had to build their careers and lives on the wobbly, makeshift scaffolding that was the U.S. childcare infrastructure. It was hard, but at least there was something to stand on. In 2020, that scaffolding is rusting away and parents—and the mostly female and disproportionately Black workforce—are being left to fall.

This week, a new survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found more than 40% of the nation's childcare centers say they will be forced to shut down if they don't get additional funding. And realities are even worse for minority-owned programs—a full 50% of minority-owned childcare centers are certain they will have to close if they don't get help.


Even before COVID-19, America didn't have enough childcare spots for all the families that need them. After COVID-19, there will be even fewer.

"As a country, we have a choice to make," says Rhian Evans Allvin, CEO of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Are we going to continue to underfund and undervalue a system that is the backbone to the rest of the economy or are we going to make the necessary investments that recognize the essential nature of child care?"

Rhian and her colleagues are asking Congress to make substantial investments to stabilize child care and early childhood education in America.

Back in May, the childcare industry asked for $50 billion from Congress. The HEROS Act passed the House that month with only $7 billion going to childcare (for context, the airline industry got $32 billion under the CARES Act, which passed the Senate in March). The HEROES Act is still waiting to pass the Senate, and childcare operators are still waiting for help.

The NAEYC survey shows that while Paycheck Protection Program (under the CARES Act) did help childcare operators stay afloat temporarily, it benefited large childcare centers more than smaller day cares and day homes, and only about 50% of minority-owned childcare businesses.

The PPP helped, but it can't make up for the challenges centers face as they are forced to limit class sizes due to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With half as many kids, they're making half as much money but still paying rent, utilities and salaries. It doesn't take a math genius to see how this pandemic might kill an already ailing industry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, hundreds of thousands of childcare workers lost their jobs during the early months of the pandemic, and the projected future growth for the occupation is slower than the average for all occupations.

"Parents or guardians who work will continue to need the assistance of childcare workers," the Bureau notes. "In addition, the demand for preschools and childcare facilities, and consequently childcare workers, should remain strong because early childhood education is widely recognized as important for a child's intellectual and emotional development. However, the increasing cost of childcare may reduce demand for childcare workers."

That statement, as posted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that there is a real recognition all levels of government that America's childcare system is broken and just does not make sense.

Seriously—the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics says we need childcare workers, but that the median wage is only $11.65 an hour in an industry that is becoming so unaffordable that demand is being reduced. It doesn't make sense.

What makes sense is looking at childcare as the economic necessity it is.

According to Northeastern University economics professor Alicia Sasser Modestino, 13% of working parents had to quit a job or reduce hours due to lack of childcare between May and June, and as University of Arkansas professor Gema Zamarro's research proves, mothers are disproportionately affected.

Moms are losing their jobs and losing hope for the future, because how will parents ever get back on track when nearly half the childcare spots are about to evaporate? And if moms can't get back on track neither can America.

That's why more than 100 economists wrote an open letter to Congress stressing how "quality, affordable child care is an essential precondition for a successful economic recovery."

That's why Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) introduced the Child Care is Essential Act, which would provide the $50 billion the industry is looking for.

That's why New York Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D) and Massachusetts Rep. Richard E. Neal (D) introduced the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, building on and supporting the Child Care is Essential Act.

With those Ds beside lawmakers names, it may seem like this is a partisan issue, but it really isn't. Back in April polls suggested there was bipartisan support for funding the childcare industry during the COVID-19 crisis, with 82% of Republicans agreeing with 94% of Democrats that America needs this is order to recover economically.

Then in May, 23 Republican and Democratic Senators co-signed a letter stating their concern that "child care providers will be unable to weather the storm without additional relief."

They wrote: "The CARES Act provided much-needed relief for child care providers and families across the country. As Congress considers the next round of relief legislation, we urge leadership to build on its efforts to provide more support for child care so we can effectively serve the needs of essential workers in the short term, and ensure that parents can return to work as our economy recovers."

You don't need to be an economist to know that American families and childcare workers need help. The future of the country depends on it.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

    So, what's new this week? All things maternity fashion, mama.

    Stowaway Collection Maternity: Modern maternity wear that shows off your bump.

    Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? Everything from the mama/daughter duo owned brand is sewn in Long Island City, NY and they source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

    Superkin: High tech, low maintenance clothing designed for mamas.

    Superkin's line of focused essentials (launched by two retail execs, Miriam Williams and Tara Henning, who worked for world-class brands like Louis Vuitton, Walmart, J.Crew and Narvar) are meticulously designed with the needs of mamas in mind. Made from luxurious, wear tested fabrics and featuring thoughtful design details, they've created a line of clothing women actually want to wear. Each piece is a welcome addition to a solid maternity capsule wardrobe, making them a worthy investment from the first trimester.

    Tellus Mater: Sophisticated, luxury maternity wear with a minimalist aesthetic.

    Founded by a former ELLE and Marie Claire beauty editor, Tellus Mater offers high-end, sophisticated maternity looks. Designed for mamas who are looking beyond the standard ruched dresses and oversize T-shirts, the considered line features classic white blouses, tailored trousers and fitted turtlenecks with a minimalist aesthetic. Their classic feel can easily carry mamas from meetings to business dinners all in one day.

    Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

    Keep reading Show less

    If the feeling you get when you snuggle a baby could be bottled and sold, this world would probably be a better place—research basically proves. Between the way those snuggles release heartwarming oxytocin to the benefits they have on babies’ growing brains, let’s all agree there really is no such thing as loving on your baby too much.

    Keep reading Show less