Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Rural families struggle with finding child care

Rural families are more likely to live in child-care deserts, meaning areas where demand for licensed child-care programs far outstrips local supply, according to a newly published data analysis by University of Minnesota researchers and the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress.

"The first-of-its-kind nationwide portrait shows that . . . rural families nationwide had the fewest child-care slots relative to demand across all categories, the researchers found," Amanda Becker reports for The Washington Post. The study also found that, on average, areas with large Latino populations and households with a combined income of $75,000 to $85,000 were the most likely to be in child-care deserts.

"The analysis comes as the coronavirus pandemic has upended an already tenuous child-care landscape," Becker reports. "Industry groups predict that one-third to half of child-care programs may close permanently without significant public investment, and many economists warn as much as $50 billion may be needed to assist the industry as parents attempt to return to work."

Congressional Democrats and Republicans have proposed bills with billions in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services' already-existing Child Care and Development Block Grant, which gives states and tribes funding to help lower-income workers access child care, Becker reports.

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