This coronavirus pandemic has added stress to many different aspects of American life. From personal stress in coping with the effects of the pandemic to the stress on the economy, no one and nothing has been immune. The childcare industry has been particularly hard-hit.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Child-care centers across the country—big chains, tiny in-home operations, nonprofits—are teetering. Enrollment slumped in the spring and never fully recovered. Extra expenses, like protective gear and deep cleaning, are piling up. By some estimates, some 40% of U.S. day cares are closed. Many of those that are open have half the number of children they did in February, or less.
Already, the pandemic is forcing many mothers out of the workforce, a decision likely to hurt their career prospects for years. And if parents can’t work, the economy can’t flourish.
Last month, my colleague Carrie Lukas and I wrote a paper for the Heritage Foundation, highlighting America’s need for better daycare options. Even before the pandemic, America’s healthcare landscape needed to be changed. High costs due to overregulation have made quality childcare out of reach for many parents and children. While more options would help to reduce the costs, we note in our paper:
Overregulation has discouraged many would-be childcare providers from entering the market—leaving parents with more limited, and less desirable options. By returning resources to parents and removing regulations that are not directly related to ensuring the health and safety of children, we can create a better system.
The pandemic has only exacerbated the issues already present in the healthcare system. While some parents keep their children out of daycare because of fears for their health, these parents cannot properly return to work and help to return our economy and country to a more normal state. At the same time, school closures have increased the need for childcare. But many parents continue to face unnecessary barriers to finding the right option for their family.
Parents know what is best for their children. As government regulations have increased over the years, they’ve choked out the variety of options, forcing many home-based daycare providers to close. We need to reexamine our childcare policies and ensure that we are allowing parents to find the best fit for their children.