Fixing our broken child care system

Staff shortages, high costs and Covid closures are straining an already broken child care system. Today, how our patchwork approach fails America's youngest and how to fix it.

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While staffing shortages persist, Philadelphia is working to expand its early childhood programs

While staffing shortages persist, Philadelphia is working to expand its early childhood programs. (Emily Elconin for Chalkbeat)

President Biden’s Build Back Better spending package has stalled in the Senate so hopes for the policies that would impact America’s youngest are now on hold, but people who work with young children say we can wait no longer. Child care and pre-K programs are in crisis – too few quality providers, too high costs, a shortage of teachers, desperate working families and young children impacted by the pandemic who need extra care.

What’s wrong with our patchwork child care system, what does high quality child care and pre-K look like and how do we meet the needs of our youngest and most vulnerable.


MAI MIKSIC, early childhood education policy director of Children First PA

DAMARIS ALVARADO-RODRIQUEZ, Executive Director of Children’s Playhouse which runs two childcare centers in South Philadelphia

STEVEN BARNETT, Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

Recommended reading

Bloomberg. How childcare became on of the most broken businesses in America – “Child care in the U.S. is the rare example of an almost entirely private market in which the service offered is too expensive for both consumers and the businesses that provide it.”

WHYY, A staffing crisis in Philadelphia’s child care centers is upending the recovery –  ” In a survey released in September of 1,100-plus Pennsylvania programs, more than half reported having to close at least one classroom. Roughly 26,000 children were on waiting lists.”




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