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Child care is an essential service

A new poll released last week by the First Five Years Fund, confirms that now more than ever Americans view child care as an essential service on par with health care and education. The early childhood community was hit hard by the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic created. Many programs closed, some permanently, due to decreased attendance, higher costs, and worry over health and safety. These closures only exacerbated an existing lack of quality child care in underserved communities across Arizona. Now, as the country begins to re-open, there are fears that many more people will not have a safe, reliable place for their children to go for care.

The nation’s child care crisis has impacted the views of voters of every ideological background, signaling to lawmakers that supporting early learning and care still is a rare unifying issue that comes with little political downside. In battleground states with tight Senate races, including Arizona, 83 percent of voters say that candidates for office at all levels should have plans and policies to help working parents afford high-quality child care.

Key findings from the poll include:

  • 84% of voters say high-quality, affordable child care for families with young children is an essential service – just like health care and education.
  • 79% of voters say the COVID-19 crisis has shown us how essential it is that we build a child care system that makes child care available and affordable to all families who need it.
  • Two-thirds of all voters say that access to high-quality affordable child care is essential or very important to our ability to get the economy going.
  • A majority of American voters (53%) think that federal funding for quality early education from birth to age five, including child care and preschool, should be increased.

As we approach this year's election, we strongly encourage voters to ask candidates at the state and federal level where they stand on child care and other early childhood issues that affect our community. We must treat child care as an essential service and prioritize it accordingly.

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