Let’s Keep the Progress Going
As the COVID-19 crisis approaches its 18th month, we are just now beginning to get a full picture of the damage the pandemic has done to our children and families, our schools, institutions, and our communities. Initial data gave us a frightening look into how the pandemic might permanently damage the early childhood infrastructure and threaten the ability for parents to return to work as we emerged from the pandemic and as time has worn on, we are now able to see that many of our fears are coming true.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) surveyed child care providers early in the pandemic and recently released a follow-up survey in late July Progress and Peril: Child Care at a Crossroads of 2021. The Arizona state-level data became available last week. Not surprisingly it showed that federal and state relief funds have “helped stabilize child care programs and prevented more program closures. However, staffing shortages, low wages, and a broken market mean that substantial, sustainable public investments are needed for this essential sector to recover and rebuild”.
The key takeaway here is that while the federal COVID relief packages were essential for immediate relief, it is vital that Arizonans, and our policymakers, support additional federal assistance like the $3.5T reconciliation proposal (also called the Biden Build Back Better plan) currently making its way through Congress. In addition, it is vital for the Arizona Legislature to support state investments to sustain the progress and assure that this essential service remains available to all of Arizona’s families and children.