New Report from The Century Foundation: Child Care Cliff: 3.2 Million Children Likely to Lose Spots with End of Federal Funds

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

New Report from The Century Foundation: Child Care Cliff: 3.2 Million Children Likely to Lose Spots with End of Federal Funds

In just over 100 days—on September 30, 2023—child care for millions of children and families nationwide will begin to disappear, with dire consequences for children, families’ earnings, and state economies.

In the first-ever economic analysis of the looming child care cliff, The Century Foundation has projected the impact of the cutoff for children, families, and state economies, including for all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

We find that:

  • More than 70,000 child care programs—one-third of those supported by American Rescue Plan stabilization funding—will likely close, and approximately 3.2 million children could lose their child care spots.
  • The loss in tax and business revenue will likely cost states $10.6 billion in economic activity per year.
  • In addition, we project that millions of parents will be impacted, with many leaving the workforce or reducing their hours, costing families $9 billion each year in lost earnings.
  • The child care workforce, which has been one of the slowest sectors to recover from the pandemic, will likely lose another 232,000 jobs.
  • In six states—Arkansas, Montana, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.—the number of licensed programs could be cut by half or more. In another fourteen states, the supply of licensed programs could be reduced by one-third.

Our findings underscore the urgent need for immediate funding and long-term comprehensive solutions at the federal level that offer safe, nurturing, and affordable child care options to every family.

Additionally, TCF today is releasing new nationwide public opinion polling, conducted by Morning Consult, that shows that a strong majority of Americans are concerned about the looming child care cliff and overwhelmingly prefer candidates for office who champion policies to expand quality, affordable child care. A summary of the polling is available here.


Darlene Brannan runs Kids Korner Academy in Durham, North Carolina. Kids Korner Academy has been operating since 2009, serving children ages 6 weeks to 13 years. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they took out a loan to keep their program open, grateful for their dedicated teachers who came to work every day, and created a virtual option for their school-age children. Child care stabilization funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allowed them to reduce tuition, raise staff pay to about $20 an hour, offer professional development, and bring in new toys and furniture to make it a great place for kids during a stressful time.1

The children and families served by Kids Korner Academy have benefited from the well-paid and trained early educators, the reduction in child care tuition, and an engaging environment that ARPA funds made possible. And they are in good company with the millions of children and their families around the nation whose child care programs have received this kind of support.

Just like clean water, safe food, and good public schools, high quality, affordable, and accessible child care is a national priority that benefits everyone. Families across all income levels share the same determination to provide the best possible foundation for their children, especially in their early years. Two-thirds of children under age 6 have all of their parents (either solo or coupled) in the workforce.2 Parents need the freedom to afford child care and to have peace of mind that their children are safe and nurtured while parents go to work or to school and make the choices that are best for their families...

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