The Child Care Cliff, A Cautionary Tale - Early Learning Nation

The Child Care Cliff, A Cautionary Tale

Support for this project was provided by Better Life Lab at New America

The Child Care Cliff, A Cautionary Tale. 
A graphic story on the child care cliff and end of ARPA funding for child care. Text by Rebecca Gale and Comic by Dianne Kirsch
A teacher reads a story to a class of young children, entitled: “The Child Care Cliff. The teacher says: For story time today I want to read this age old fable: The Child Care Cliff. A child raises his hand and asks: ïs it scary? The teacher replies: ït doesn’t have to be.”Picture of child care center at the edge of a cliff. The text below reads:
There has been a lot in the news about a
child care cliff. Talk that federal funding for child care will run out. But many Americans
pay for child care without government assistance. So what does the cliff mean?
And why should people care?
Picture of child care center falling off a cliff, as people run from it. The text reads:

The "cliff" refers to the end of the federal funds.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government allocated billions of dollars to keep
the already struggling child care industry afloat. $24 billion of those emergency funds last until September 2023. Then they run out.
Pictures of ways that states supported child care- showing a mother with child, a teacher working with children, tables and chairs for young children in a center, and a construction worker in an essential job. The text reads:

States used these funds in all sorts of ways to support child care:
More money to help families to afford it.
More money for child care providers to pay hard working staff.
Money to keep child care centers open while people sheltered in place. Without these funds, many could not stay in business.
Money to pay for child care for parents who had essential jobs, and couldn't work remotely.
Picture of the US Capitol Building, Democrats in Congress tried to make the child care funding permanent. The text reads:  Democrats in Congress tried to make the
funding permanent. Studies show in early care, education and connection pays off. But the funding failed on partisan lines.

Picture of a young girl who asks, what happens when funds run out?
A woman working at her laptop with a child’s paintings behind her. Papers in front of her say 70,000 child care centers will close and 23,000 child care jobs will be gone.  The text reads:

Without permanent funding, when they run out, a lot of child care facilities may close, raise rates, and turn away families.
Source: "Child Care Cliff: 32 Million Children likely to Lose Spots with End of Federal Funds." The Century Foundation
 A child asks, “People don’t want to support kids?”
The teacher replies “Some states do.”
Newspapers show examples of Vermont, Minnesota and New Mexico, which have voted to provide near-universal child care. 
Pictures of falling rocks with a stressed mother and son, lost money, and a child care center closed, representing the $9 billion loss for families with the end of child care funding. The text reads:

But it's not just a loss of learning and engagement for children. Without child care, many parents
cannot work. With the September cliff, parents may have to quit or cut back at work. It's aSo billion loss for families.
Source: "Child Care Cliff: 32 Million Children likely to Lose Spots with End of Federal Funds." The Century Foundation
A child raises their hand and asks, “So what comes next?”A child care center at the edge of a cliff but with a bridge built to support it. The text reads:

We need to support efforts to invest in child care infrastructure. This can't just be left up to
the states or parents.

We need to build a sustainable federal funding source so that children get care, parents can work and teachers get paid fair wages.

Support for this graphic story was provided by the Better Life Lab at New America.

Rebecca Gale is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. and a reporting fellow for Better Life Lab at New America.

Dianne Kirsch is graphic designer, specializing in brand identity, art direction, print collateral, books, annual reports and website design.

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