In mid-March, North Carolina launched
emergency child care for essential workers with procedures for health and
safety precautions. Child care centers and family child care homes stepped up
to play a critical role for the state as it dealt with the COVID-19 crisis.
Many signed up so the health care workforce and other essential personnel would
have a safe and nurturing environment for their children while they went to
Child Care Services Association (CCSA) launched the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund as a collaborative effort with Smart Start and local partnerships to thank our child care programs and provide additional funds during this crucial time. We want to help programs provide the highest quality early learning experience for our state’s youngest children.
Approximately 1,000 child care programs
applied for aid from the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund, (the only COVID-19 relief
fund designated explicitly for child care programs statewide) during its first
round of funding. But the need is still great. More than 3,000 child care
programs were open and serving children of essential workers as of early May,
and even more programs will open now that North Carolina has started Phase I of
its plan to reopen.
“This crisis has amplified significant needs, and protecting families ― and the child care programs on which they depend ― has never been more urgent,” said Jim Hansen, PNC regional president for Eastern Carolinas. The PNC Foundation contributed a $100,000 grant to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund. “Child care programs represent a critical resource for essential workers and their families, and this grant will help make these programs more accessible,” said Hansen.
Work is Not Yet Done
COVID-19 has left child care programs to
operate in extreme circumstances while providing safe and loving care to
children. During the shelter-in-place order, child care programs in North
Carolina served approximately 25% of the number of children they would normally;
this made it financially difficult for programs to continue operating without
sustained income. For most child care programs, even small grants will help
them safely care for children.
“This crisis has financially impacted child
care programs and their ability to get the supplies they need to keep children
safe,” stated Smart Start Interim President Donna White. “This relief fund is
critical to helping programs that are open care for the children of front-line
workers and helping ensure that all programs are able to reopen on the other
side of this ― a thriving child care industry will be critical to North
As North Carolina re-opens in stages and the nation slowly ramps up employment levels, the business of child care will face new challenges, also considering North Carolina K-12 schools are closed for the remainder of the school year. The state and federal guidelines for child care during the pandemic aren’t always easy in a child care setting. Young children don’t social distance, especially during traumatic times. Babies can’t cover their sneezes. And right now, most child care programs are working hard to deep clean frequently to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their classrooms.
“We are so grateful to the PNC Foundation
for its generosity,” said CCSA President Marsha Basloe. “The PNC
Foundation’s philanthropic mission focuses on early childhood education and community
and economic development ― causes that are foundational to the work of CCSA and
the relief efforts we are providing.”
Support our child care heroes. It’s not too late. We will continue to provide support to our child care community. You can donate to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund today. Any amount, big or small, can directly help early childhood educators and workers across our state best care for our children.
By Allory Bors, Research Coordinator
at Child Care Services Association
At the two month mark since the first case of COVID-19 in North Carolina, we at Child Care Services Association have created this timeline intended to help us mark major developments and consider how far we’ve come.
In our first post of the series, we discussed how the constant stream of COVID-19 news and developments can be disorienting. Before we have the chance to process one piece of information, we must urgently turn our attention to something else. Yet, advocating for young children, their families and child care providers in the long term will require us to stay vigilant and follow through.
For example, we have all heard about (or have firsthand experience with) the supports that should be coming to individuals, families and businesses through the CARES Act. However, thousands of North Carolinians have waited on the phone for hours to file an unemployment claim, and payouts have been delayed for weeks. Others have yet to receive their stimulus checks and small businesses struggle to navigate loan applications.
Even if the CARES Act works as intended, the Center for American Progress predicts a possible loss of 4.5 million child care slots nationally. Emergency solutions will require not only a great level of creativity but an understanding of context so we can say with confidence what will and won’t work to support the early childhood system.
If you or someone you know has firsthand experience you would like to share about filing for unemployment, finding child care or applying for small business loans, we would love to hear from you! Comments can be submitted by email here.
You will find some of the timeline’s highlights below. Click here to read the full timeline.
North Carolina COVID-19 March and April 2020 Timeline Highlights
In response to a growing number of cases, Governor Cooper announces a two-week school closure, which includes NC Pre-K and pre-K sites in public schools. Other child care settings are encouraged to stay open to meet demand for emergency child care.
NAEYC releases preliminary results from a COVID-19 survey conducted among child care providers beginning March 12. Nationally, 30% of these respondents said they would not survive a closing longer than two weeks without financial support.
Week of March 23
Child Care Services Association (CCSA) launches COVID-19 Relief Fund for child care programs, in partnership with the North Carolina Smart Start network.
Deadline for private child care centers and family child care homes in North Carolina to apply to stay open as emergency providers, which they must do in order to legally operate. Programs that do not apply are considered closed and are not eligible for some funding for this reason.
NC DHHS and DCDEE announce that all subsidy payments to child care providers will be paid through March, April and May, regardless of whether the center or child care home is open or closed.
The Bipartisan Policy Center releases results from a national poll of parents and guardians of young children who used child care in the last six months. Of parents who still need to use formal care, 63% reported difficulty finding care.
Governor Cooper announces Phase 1 of re-opening plan. Phase 1 includes loosening of restrictions with some retail businesses re-opening at reduced capacity. Previously closed child care centers are allowed to reopen serving families with working parents or parents looking for work.
Slehria, Communications Intern, and Jennifer Gioia, Communications Manager,
May 8, 2020, is National Child Care Provider
Appreciation Day, a day to recognize child care providers, teachers, and other
educators of young children everywhere. Join CCSA in giving thanks to those who
dedicate themselves every day to educating and caring for our youngest
children. Especially now during COVID-19, they deserve more than just our
Child care providers are essential workers. COVID-19 has left them to operate in extreme circumstances while providing safe and loving care to the children of other essential workers. Please consider giving to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund launched in partnership with Smart Start to help child care programs in North Carolina either continue operating during this pandemic or be able to reopen once it’s safe again.
With your help, child care providers like Mary
Lewis can continue to do what they love—teaching.
Mary says “just watching children learn” is what she loves most about teaching. “Being able to adapt lesson plans on their level and teach them the way they need to learn, not the way I want to teach. Finding what works best for them on the individual level.”
Mary has been the director of the Children’s
Center of First Baptist in Cary, N.C. for four years and just recently
completed her Bachelor’s degree in December. “I have applied to UNC-G for the
master’s program. I’m hoping to go all the way. I’m hoping to get a doctorate,”
For Mary, her background sparked her career in
early childhood education. “I grew up as a foster child and I’ve always looked
for a way to advocate for children,” she said. As a director, Mary says she can
“connect with [students] on all levels instead of just a few in the classroom.”
Her transition to teaching future teachers
began with her desire to “see some changes in the early childhood college
curriculum so [teachers] can be more prepared when we step in and be ready to
go.” She says a change in curriculum can help teach future teachers “how to
handle behavior issues [and] different things I feel like maybe we’re missing
out on now in the current college curriculum.”
Mary’s favorite part of being a director is in
her connections. “I love that I can connect with all the children, and all the
families and the staff. My determination is to treat them the way I would want
to be treated. I’ve worked for some directors that didn’t really care, you
know. I really want to make a difference in [the staff’s] lives as much as the
lives of the children, and T.E.A.C.H. allows me to do that,” Mary said.
Her advice to those beginning a journey in early childhood education is, “to not settle. Not to just go get the paper [degree], but to go and get every piece of information offered by the colleges so you can really build yourself up and know you can help change the lives of children.”
The most rewarding part of Mary’s experience
is how she “can look back at the end of the day and say that I’ve accomplished
this, or together we’ve accomplished this. Together, we’ve made a change.”
CCSA is grateful for child care providers like
Mary for not just caring for and educating our youngest children, but for truly
being the backbone of our economy. COVID-19 has shown the rest of America this,
and we hope that the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund will help child care
programs continue to care and educate our youngest after the pandemic. Say
thanks to your child care provider and donate to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund
The world as we know it has changed due to
the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Our daily routines, jobs and activities
have all had to adjust to a “new normal.” During these uncertain and
unprecedented times, many are scrambling for resources and unable to make ends
In response, Child Care Services Association
(CCSA) launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund in partnership with Smart Start to
help child care programs in North Carolina with urgent and long-term expenses
during this pandemic. This fund will eventually shift focus to helping families
pay for child care once the immediate crisis has passed.
GivingTuesday is usually celebrated during
the holiday season, but given the current state of global crisis, May 5 has
been dedicated as a special day of giving and unity in emergency response to
COVID-19. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global generosity movement to drive citizen
engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities
and nonprofits around the world.
It just so happens that #GivingTuesdayNow
falls on National Teacher Appreciation Day, a day that we especially love to
celebrate and recognize at CCSA. Teachers educate and shape our young children,
and early childhood educators are some of the most patient, dedicated and
hard-working individuals in the workforce. Child care is the backbone of our
nation’s economy; that has become even more apparent with the spread of
COVID-19. It is more important than ever to remember that child care providers
are essential workers. Our dependence on child care is crucial to the regular
function of so many other jobs and industries.
We want to remind you amidst all the
uncertainty to take today to appreciate the teachers who work selflessly to
mold children’s lives in a positive direction, ensuring the success of their
future‚ of our future. Take time to
say a special “Thank You” to an exceptional teacher and recognize them for the
inspiring work they do.
In addition, please consider donating to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund so we can continue to support the backbone of our nation’s economy and protect early education that is vital to the development of children. Donate to help child care programs stay open now to educate and care for the children of other essential workers and reopen after families begin to return to work outside of their homes.
by the Professional Development Initiatives Team at
As Child Care Services Association (CCSA) celebrates the Week of the Young Child, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® North Carolina would like to recognize all early childhood programs that meet the needs of young children in our great state.Early care and education teachers are essential to our communities, families and children, yet never has it been more evident than during the current world health crisis. While a number of careers have been classified as essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, early care and education teachers have been at the forefront of caring for one of the most vulnerable groups.
As an early care and education teacher, you have made children feel safe during an uncertain time continuing to exhibit why you make a difference for young children. In 2012, The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center at CCSA launched the “I Make A Difference” campaign, and today, through adversity, the early care and education community continues to demonstrate those 10 Ways I (You) Make A Difference. You have done so by:
early care and education to ensure all children are ready for school and life;
children to gain the early language and literacy skills to prepare them for
nurturing relationships to help all children learn to work and play well with
development by posing questions and providing developmentally appropriate
materials and activities that stimulate children’s interest in pondering ideas,
posing theories, formulating thoughts, growing skills to support persistence
and attentiveness to solving a problem and experimenting with materials;
rich learning environments that promote children wanting to learn new things
children’s understanding of key mathematical concepts;
skill development opportunities that support children’s physical health and
growth, including large and fine motor development and eye-hand coordination,
healthy nutrition and children’s awareness of personal health and fitness;
with all families around their children’s development;
parents to work and supporting families’ contributions to our economy; and
your education to ensure you know the latest research and have the resources
needed to be an effective teacher.
The world has witnessed your relentless commitment to the field as an essential worker, and as a result, has enhanced the public’s education of how essential early care and education professionals are to our community. Through this, may more advocates and champions rise up to fight for better compensation and recognition of the early childhood workforce and recognize the important role teachers have in ensuring children’s well-being.
By Kay Ducharme, Regional CCR&R Senior Manager at Child Care Services Association
Part III: Why is data important?
For Child Care Services Association (CCSA), collecting data about the impact and effects of high quality child care is one of the most important things we can do for early childhood educators, young children and families. To that end, we talk to educators and families daily, collecting an enormous amount of data to analyze the needs of families and early childhood educators. In fact, we are the only organization in North Carolina that collects data on child care supply and demand. This information helps us strengthen and innovate the child care system for families, child care providers, programs and communities.
Yet, I am often asked why we have to
collect all of this data. In short, data is absolutely vital to ensuring that
all children have access to high quality child care led by educated and
For example, recent data indicates decreases in the number of classrooms, family child care homes and the total number in the child care workforce. Since child care resource and referral (CCR&R) is the only system that collects data on both supply and demand, we continue to help families locate child care as the supply decreases and the need increases. We also work to help start-up new programs to fill gaps where the supply of child care is limited. Our data can be used to help us advocate for change in public policy. And we need data to accurately tell the story of what families and providers across North Carolina need to strengthen services for families and the early childhood education field.
Federal funds to support CCR&R are a part of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The state’s Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) defines goals each year for the Council to help North Carolina meet federal block grant requirements. Regional CCR&R Lead Agencies receive funding from the Council to provide services in the 14 CCR&R regions based on population, community and child care demographics, workforce numbers and number of classrooms in the region, etc. The Council reports outcomes, outputs and demographics to DCDEE each year. These reports enable us to analyze customer needs and identify gaps in services and trends in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
Statewide in FY19, the NC CCR&R
system data indicated that the 14 regions trained 24,180 early educators; 3,077
of those training participants received CEUs. In addition to training,
CCR&R agencies provided technical assistance to 6,171 classrooms/homes and
consumer education and/or consultation to 21,738 households across the state. Ninety-eight
percent (98%) of families surveyed said they used quality indicators when
choosing child care and 97% of the families surveyed indicated that they chose
a 3-5 star rated child care program after using CCR&R services. By
collecting data in a consistent manner using defined data sets, data is
monitored to ensure reliability.
To access a membership to the website for
CCR&R staff, please contact Mary Erwin, NC CCR&R Council Coordinator at
Child Care Services Association, here.
For more in-depth knowledge of the
CCR&R system, training sessions are available each year throughout the
state for new staff. The final one for this fiscal year will be held in
Greenville, N.C., at the Martin-Pitt Partnership for Children, April 23 at 9:30
a.m. You can register for the training session here.
To read the first part of this series on what the statewide CCR&R is, click here.
To read the second part of this series on what the NC CCR&R Council is, click here.
By Kay Ducharme, Regional CCR&R Senior Manager at Child Care Services Association
What is the NC CCR&R Council?
The NC CCR&R Council was designed by the state’s Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) to standardize the delivery of child care resource and referral (CCR&R) services and provide equitable funding across the state. Before the Council was created, North Carolina had a fragmented, under-resourced CCR&R system that delivered services to children from birth to 5 or birth through 12, depending on where they lived. Some CCR&Rs provided non-English services while others did not. Databases and reporting mechanisms were different and data on programs, children and families served was not collected in a consistent manner. This made it impossible to provide accurate statewide data when advocating for changes in public policy or reporting to federal or state governments on the successes and/or gaps in services across North Carolina.
Council allowed DCDEE to ensure that CCR&R services were equitably funded
and available in communities across the state for providers and families of
children from birth through age 12 in the two most commonly used languages, no
matter where they lived or worked. In addition, they wanted to ensure that the
system was data driven and that data was collected consistently. This allows
DCDEE to paint an accurate picture of what is happening in North Carolina for
policymakers using consistent statistical data. It was also created with a
flexible structure to accommodate emerging needs as priorities and funding
Today, the Council manages and delivers CCR&R
core services and special initiatives which include providing technical
assistance and training to early care and education professionals, helping
families locate child care services, collecting and analyzing data to help
shape public policy and provide community awareness, helping young children
build strong social-emotional behaviors, helping support babies, helping
improve school-age services and others as requested by DCDEE. The Council
collaborates with other early childhood entities in North Carolina to
strengthen early childhood and also leads many projects that increase the
quality and availability of child care, provides research and advocates for
child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families.
The three agencies chosen to partner as
the Council—Child Care Services Association, Child Care Resources Inc. and
Southwestern Child Development Commission—are referred to as Council Management
Agencies (CMAs) and each one is responsible for the management of 4 to 5 regions
(inclusive of their own region). Below is a map showing how regions are
A wealth of information is provided by the Council to support CCR&Rs, children, families, providers and communities. In addition to training and technical assistance, other resources provided to CCR&Rs include:
train the trainer classes;
an annual conference;
email and advocacy alerts;
regulatory changes and notices;
definitions/instructions and data
a monthly news blast with early
childhood news and links to regional training calendars;
Art and Science of TA and Emergency
Preparedness training calendars;
Read more about why the data collected is important in the final part of this series here.
To read the first part of this series on what the statewide CCR&R is, click here.
By Kay Ducharme, Regional CCR&R Senior Manager at Child Care Services Association
What is the Statewide CCR&R?
CCR&R stands for child care resource
and referral. It is carried out by organizations that focus on building the
supply of child care and supporting child care programs through training and
technical assistance for early childhood educators. CCR&R agencies emerged
in the early 1970s to help families locate child care as more women began
entering the workforce. As young families became more mobile and moved away
from home to take jobs in other places, leaving their support systems behind,
the demand for child care increased dramatically. North Carolina’s first
CCR&R agency was the Durham Day Care Council, established in 1974. Day Care
Services Association in Orange County and Durham Day Care Council merged in
1999 to become Child Care Services Association (CCSA).
Today, CCR&R core services include
helping parents locate child care, advocating for the needs of families and
young children, building the supply of quality child care through training and
other resources for programs, bridging child care and education and gathering
important data on child care needs/trends. In North Carolina, CCR&R is done
by organizations in 14 regions and overseen by three agencies: Child Care
Services Association (CCSA) in the Triangle area, Child Care Resources Inc.
(CCRI) in the Charlotte area and Southwestern Child Development Commission
(SWCDC) in western North Carolina. These agencies are referred to as the
Council Management Agencies (CMAs) and each one is responsible for the
management of four or five regions, including their own.
Learn more about the NC CCR&R Council that is comprised of the three CMAs including a map breaking down the 14 regions in the next part here.
To read the final part of this series about why the data collected is important, click here.
By Allison Miller,
CCSA Compensation Initiatives Team
When Davina Woods was asked how she became interested in early childhood, she said, “I entered the profession as an undercover helicopter mom! I had just placed my son in child care and I couldn’t stand not being there and seeing what and how he was doing.”
Her child’s center hired her as a part-time school-age group leader before she eventually found her calling with young children and their teachers.
She started with no education and now she is in the master’s program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with the assistance of a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® scholarship. After 25 years in the field, she loves her position as director of Excel Christian Academy, a five-star child care center in Alamance County, where she has been for 13 years.
“It has been a privilege to work in every single aspect of
child care,” Davina said. “In every classroom, with every age group, in every position.
I have fulfilled every duty from cook to van driver and it gives me perspective
and appreciation. I love this viewpoint. I get the luxury of working with
children, families and teachers.”
Davina’s center prioritizes its teachers by providing a
livable wage as well as other key benefits, which she knows most teachers are
unable to access in this field. “And then they get WAGE$ and T.E.A.C.H. on top
of that,” she said.
The Child Care WAGE$® (WAGE$) Program provides education-based salary supplements to low-paid teachers, directors and family child care providers working with children between the ages of birth to five. The program is designed to provide preschool children more stable relationships with better-educated teachers by rewarding teacher education and continuity of care.
The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship (T.E.A.C.H.) Program addresses under-education, poor compensation and high turnover within the early childhood workforce by providing educational scholarships to early care professionals and those who perform specialized functions in the early care system.
“WAGE$ and T.E.A.C.H. are just part of who we are, part of
the center’s make-up,” Davina said. “It is essential, imperative, to have an
educated staff, especially here in the 21st century where children
are not changing but the modes and methods of educating children are constantly
evolving. Teachers must know best practices and know how to utilize the latest
research and incorporate that into classrooms for the best outcomes for
According to Davina, “WAGE$ is essential because it helps to boost teacher morale within the program. WAGE$ both encourages and motivates staff to increase their education. Additionally, WAGE$ provides a sense of healthy competition among team members as they see who can achieve the next level first.”
She said, “My teachers talk about the courses they take and they drive each other.” Three of her staff will graduate in December with their associate degree in early childhood education and they remind Davina of why she does what she does. “If I take great care of my team, they will take great care of the children.”
Thank you, Davina, for your support of the workforce and the Child Care WAGE$® Program.
Learn more about the Child Care WAGE$® Program here.
Learn more about the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship (T.E.A.C.H.) Program here.
If any issue warrants
public attention, public discussion and rethinking as to the best way to ensure
families with young children have access to child care and pre-kindergarten, it
is our nation’s current approach to the safety and healthy development of young
children. It’s not a system as much as a patchwork quilt stitched together over
decades. The federal government allocates funds to states through individual
programs or funding streams (i.e., block grants), each with different rules,
administered by different state agencies, and too often resulting in siloed
approaches with little to no coordination or collaboration among state agencies,
departments, divisions or communities.
In December 2019,
Congress enacted the FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education
Appropriations measure, which included the following funding levels for early
care and education programs:
In addition to the funding above, in FY2019, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture allocated $3.7 billion to states to support healthy meals and snacks for low-income children in child care centers and family child care homes  and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services allocated the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to states, of which states chose to use $3.8 billion for child care and $2.6 billion for state pre-K.  The number of children served by TANF funds for child care or pre-K is unknown because the federal government only requires aggregate spending to be reported, not how many children are served, the setting children are in (homes or centers, licensed or unlicensed) or the average price paid per child. In all, that’s more than $35 billion through various federal funds for early care and education programs.
Child care is the largest early childhood program with $12.5 billion in funding and yet only about 17 percent of eligible children (based on state standards) receive a subsidy.  Many states have a waiting list for assistance, including North Carolina with a waiting list of more than 40,000 children. Families have a difficult time finding care, affording care, and then many parents express concern about the quality of care. Numerous national reports have been released about child care deserts, communities where the need for child care for parents of children under age 6 pales in comparison to the licensed supply of child care.  The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services released a report in October 2019 that found the supply of home-based care has declined by more than 97,000 providers since 2005. 
Why? Child care is a business. Child care centers tend to operate in areas where the population is dense enough with sufficient numbers of private-pay families who can afford weekly parent fees. The operating budget for child care centers largely comprises parent fees and therefore staff is hired at the lowest wages possible to hold costs down. In a good economy with low unemployment, like we have today, turnover is high because staff often can find better-paying jobs in fast food, retail sales or other jobs that require less training or education. Turnover also costs businesses because of the marketing, interviewing, hiring and training required for new staff.
For home-based providers, the hours are long and the pay is low. According to a 2019 economic impact report by the Committee for Economic Development,  the average annual income of home-based providers is approximately $15,000 per year,  18% higher than in North Carolina, where the average income of home-based providers is $12,300.  The decline in home-based providers (who often serve infants and toddlers) is a hardship for parents, particularly those in rural communities where the economics of operating a center don’t work. Home-based care is often less expensive and providers may be more willing to stay open during nontraditional hours for those parents who work shift work or have long commutes to their job. Yet, again, wages drive interest in opening a home-based program (or closing one) because other jobs in the community may pay more with fewer hours and less stress.
The reality is that mothers are working today. Nationally, approximately 72 percent of mothers with children under age 6 are working outside of the home,  65.4 percent of mothers with children age 2 are working  and, 57.8 percent of mothers with children under age 1 are working.  Many of these mothers need child care, but federal subsidies reach only one out of every six eligible children. Therefore, most families are forced to afford whatever they can find. However, in too many communities, the supply is not available, let alone affordable.
There is no doubt that if our nation’s early care and education system were designed today, it would look much different. If we can’t think out of the box about a new bold system to better meet the needs of families with young children, we will be stuck with incremental, minor band-aids that ignore the real problem: the system is under-financed and poorly designed. Parents can’t afford quality child care, but we know from the research that high-quality child care really matters to the healthy development of children, particularly in the earliest years as a child’s brain is developing the fastest, setting the architecture for all future social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills. 
Two decades ago, child care was a work support. Today, we know that it is a two-generation strategy. High-quality child care helps parents work and helps support the healthy development of children. In fact, parents who can’t access child care reduce their hours or drop out of the workforce. About 94 percent of those who involuntarily work part-time are mothers who cite child care problems as their reason for working part-time. 
In 2018, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released “Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education,” which reviewed the multiple funding streams for early care and education and made a number of recommendations. The NAS Committee, made up of early childhood experts and finance experts, recommended investing in early care and education at a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) aligned with the average of other member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report recommended increasing funds in four phases, from at least $5 billion in phase one to $53 billion in phase four. 
However, it is not just
about the money. It is also about program design and meeting the needs of
families in urban and rural areas and in an array of settings that best meet
the needs of the family and each individual child with an early education workforce
that is trained and paid appropriately for the important work they do.
Rethinking is always a
bit more challenging than staying in the box with patchwork fixes. The current
system isn’t working for low-income children whose families need a subsidy or
the private market where working parents need access to affordable high-quality
child care and early education programs. It is time for a discussion about a