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What Do We Mean When We Say “Childcare Crisis?”

The childcare crisis is a multifaceted problem often discussed in broad, vague terms. In this Vox article, author Rachel M. Cohen argues that we must be more clear about what aspects of the problem we’re talking about when using the phrase “childcare crisis.”

Part of the problem is a lack of sufficient data to point us to the largest needs and best solutions. But Cohen argues that using the phrase “childcare crisis” also contributes to confusion around the issue, making advocacy efforts less efficient. She concludes, “Better data would help, particularly more research on parent preferences and informal care arrangements. But so too would speaking in plainer language about what measures we’re fighting for.”

Take a look:

Fixing the child care crisis starts with understanding it

Nearly every day a new story is published about “the child care crisis” in America. (I’ve written stories referencing it myself.) President Joe Biden has referred to the “acute, immediate child care crisis”; on April 18, he signed new orders to boost child care programs and their workers.

But what exactly is that crisis? A closer look at the various articles, think tank reports, advocacy campaigns, and political speeches reveals that not everyone is talking about the same thing.

Is the crisis the inability of families to afford child care? The struggle to land spots in licensed centers, or find care close to home or work? Is it a lack of support for parents who want to stay home with their kids, or the failure to provide support to other informal caregivers? Is it the inability to attract child care workers in the competitive labor market? Is it inequitable enrichment opportunities for children, or the challenges parents, particularly mothers, face when trying to work? Is it all of the above, or only some?

Image via Vox


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