COVID-19 relief funds continue to buoy struggling infant and toddler care system
A recent report from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) emphasizes the importance of continued funding to infant and toddler programs and providers. A November 2022 survey of nearly 13,000 providers revealed both the scope of the challenges they are facing and how critical stabilization grants – including funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and other federal COVID-19 stimulus dollars – are to their continued operation.
According to NAEYC’s report, more than 60% of infant and toddler providers were experiencing staffing shortages, with nearly half of those programs reporting longer waitlists or under-enrollment due to the shortage. More than one-third of programs reported that they would be forced to raise tuition for working parents when stabilization grants end, and nearly as many said they would have to cut wages or pause pay increases.
In other early childhood program areas, 11% of providers reported risk of possible closure without the support of the stabilization grants. However, 28% of respondents working specifically in infant-toddler care said their programs would be forced to close under the same circumstances. This report makes it clear that the infant and toddler care landscape is in need of sustained state and federal funding to prevent staff shortages, long waitlists, unattainable fees for working families, and mass closures.
Despite the transformative changes that Colorado has made in early childhood since 2020, infant-toddler child care remains incredibly difficult for families to access and afford. The state must consider innovative ways to invest in the infant-toddler child care market. Please reach out to your legislators to emphasize the importance of prioritizing the needs of our youngest Coloradans and their families! To engage in infant-toddler child care advocacy as part of the Raise Colorado Coalition, email Melissa Mares, our Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, at email@example.com.