Market Insights Vol. 7: Finding child care is just the first hurdle
In this month's Market Insights, we examine the nuances of the cost of care, how families are learning more about their subsidy eligibility, and highlight the work of an inspiring partner.
As families across the country struggle to figure out how to afford child care, the high cost of care continues to make headlines in the mainstream media. Advocates, providers, and organizations rely on the data currently available about how expensive child care is to advance policy and help more families afford care. However crucial it is to use this available data to affect change with elected officials and state agencies, the data currently available is still oversimplified and, thus, can’t inform how best to equitably help all families afford care. There is currently much more nuance around the cost of care data than what many advocates have available to them. In this issue of Market Insights, we’re using LegUp’s data to tell a more complete story. Let’s take a look.
There are two major factors that impact the cost of care variability that we’d like to see more often incorporated into the data provided to advocates and families: schedule and program type. First, we know that price varies widely by program type, given the vastly different operating expenses for home- vs. center-based care. Ensuring that families have knowledge about that price difference is vital as they consider what option(s) will best meet their family’s needs (and their budget). Second, schedules are often overlooked when looking at tuition data, but we found that 56% of providers offer multiple part-time schedules.
This means that part-time schedules are not only the norm, but variety in the offerings of part-time care are in demand.
These programs included home- and center-based care and programs that accept subsidies and those relying only on private pay families. This variety also validates what we already knew, which is that working parents are juggling multiple care arrangements. Whether that’s a result of the presence of extended family or close friends, budget restrictions, or work schedule(s) of caregivers, tuition data needs to include the variability of part-time care to fully inform families and navigate their options.
As our team talks to partners and advocates across the country, we are encouraged by the innovation, collaboration, and tireless work in communities nationwide to advance our field. Each month, we'll be taking a moment to highlight those efforts and encourage you to learn from them. You can read more in-depth about this work in our Around the Community posts.
All Our Kin (AOK) is a national nonprofit organization that trains, supports, and sustains family child care educators. Their innovative model results in a triple win for child care educators, parents, and children. One aspect of their work is building and running Staffed Family Child Care Networks.
AOK’s Family Child Care Network offers educational mentorship, professional development, advocacy and leadership opportunities, and a network of relationships with other family child care educators. The Network is a high-touch program built on best practices in early childhood consultation and teacher mentoring. Consultants bring books and materials, professional articles, and curriculum ideas, and offer suggestions to enhance children's learning.
AOK is committed to ensuring all educators have equitable access to resources by offering services in multiple languages and at convenient times tailored to home-based educators. Learn more about how AOK is working hard to meet the unique needs of family child care educators here.
On of our partners, Early Childhood Options (ECO), has been sharing the real-time supply and demand data from our partnership with their county leaders to inform their solutions. From policy changes to public investment, they’re now rooting those decisions in data about what families actually need. Their efforts were recently featured in an article about the county’s long waitlists, and despite the challenges of such limited supply across Summit County, there is a lot of momentum around finding solutions.
We are thankful for ECO’s ongoing partnership and you can learn more about their Summit County Child Care Marketplace here.
A Note from Jessica Eggert, CEO of LegUp
It feels like many new parents have sticker shock (like I did) when they see the high cost of child care. Based on the data we saw last year, I imagine that more than a few of the 2.3 million women who left the workforce had to do so given the high cost of child care. Our mission is to keep child care providers full and families in the workforce, so that’s one reason why we’ve been so encouraged by the work in our home state of Washington and many others who have increased subsidy eligibility for families since the pandemic.
We also know that there are a lot of resources available to parents who may not otherwise know where to look. That’s why we created a Financial Assistance Calculator for families to help them understand whether or not they might qualify for a child care subsidy and then who are the experts they need to talk to about applying for one. Based on the information the family submits to us, if they appear to be eligible for a given subsidy, we send them to their local Child Care Resource and Referral agency and/or state agency so that they can speak to an expert, and we can continue to lift up the important work of our partners. To date, 57.5% of families who have completed the survey might be eligible for an existing subsidy in their city or state—and hopefully that means those families can access the resources that our partners and state agencies are working tirelessly to share. In this way, we aim to share data with our partners so they can better advocate for the needs of families in their communities, educate and inform parents of the resources that may be available to them, and connect our partners with parents in need of assistance.
In talking to providers every day, we know that quality child care is expensive and it is incredibly hard to stay open as a child care business, so we want to keep providers full and help more families afford the quality care that their family needs.