COVID Relief – and Its Coming Expiration – Impacts Child Care in Idaho
Beginning in the fall of 2020 a core team of public and private partners in Idaho looked at policies impacting infants and toddlers and their families in the state. The group, a part of the ZERO TO THREE Building Strong Foundations for Families project, focused on a number of issues, including equitable and impactful distribution of COVID relief funds to support high-quality child care. Their work helped to catalyze a recent report by Idaho First Steps Alliance.
Unstable Footing: Child Care Funding Crisis in Idaho explores the impact of those relief grants on Idaho’s child care system and opportunities for elected officials to address the rising uncertainty as that funding expires this year. The report notes that “…nearly eight out of ten child care businesses have relied on these grants to keep their doors open. These grants have made it possible for small business owners to survive the volatility of the economy in the face of rising costs on basic care necessities for infants and toddlers and retain their workforce in the face of competition from places like fast food chains and big box stores.” In addition to data highlighting gaps in accessibility of child care and acceptance and usage of the federal funds, the group conducted a survey of providers that indicates substantial uncertainties about program impacts when the funding expires. Recommendations in the report provide a clear path for legislators to follow in order to meet the needs of families of infants and toddlers and ensure a strong state economy.