America is in the midst of a caregiving crisis. Child care policy has been ignored for decades by policymakers, many of whom still view care during the preschool years as a private responsibility.
The Care Index, a data set developed by New America’s Better Life Lab and Care.com, and the New America Care Report, one of the most comprehensive analyses on the subject to date, found that the early care and learning infrastructure in the United States is a patchwork, forcing families to make trade-offs between cost, quality, and availability. Children from disadvantaged communities, whose parents often work low-wage, inflexible jobs, suffer most. But, across America, the lack of affordable care forces families to make painful compromises. Our deep ambivalence about working mothers keeps many of us from examining how we might build a better system.
Longitudinal studies, and the experience of countries like Norway, which has implemented universal child care, suggest there’s a better way. Investing in high-quality, early childhood programs yields outsized benefits: improved school readiness, higher educational attainment, and higher earnings; better-developed social skills and lower rates of depression; and reduced crime and greater social cohesion.
Join New America’s Better Life Lab and the Royal Norwegian Consulate General as we examine how public investment in high-quality, early childhood programs can create a better care infrastructure for today’s families and for a stronger, safer society.
Brigid Schulte @BrigidSchulte
Director, Better Life Lab, New America
Author, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time
Fabienne Doucet @bailabomba
Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education and Program Leader, Childhood Education, New York University
Alice Proujanksy @photo_alice
Documentary photographer covering women and labor
Economist and Research Fellow, Statistics Norway
Humberto Cruz @humbertocruz_ed
Program Officer, Right to Play
Special thanks to Care.com and A.T. Kearney for their generous support of this research, and to the Royal Norwegian Consulate General for their support in the presentation of this event. The conclusions reached in the New America Care Report are those of the authors alone.