Is COVID-19 Exacerbating Inequities in Subsidized Child Care?: Policy Lessons to Strengthen the Home-Based Sector
An estimated 7.5 million children under 6 years old are cared for by home-based child care providers each year, which represents the majority of young children in regular nonparental care arrangements in the United States. Home-based child care programs are more affordable and accessible to a broad range of families, especially low-income, Black and Latinx, and rural families. The pandemic has drawn attention to longstanding racialized inequities in access to child care and the structural inequalities that are perpetuated due to insufficient investment in the home-based child care sector. This project will document trends over time (before, during, and after the pandemic) in access to child care subsidies for home-based care providers using administrative records data for the state of Illinois, paying particular attention to the racial composition of those receiving child care subsidies and those who serve racially diverse and economically disadvantaged families through the child care subsidy program. The analysis of the administrative records will be able to show how licensed and unlicensed providers’ access to child care subsidies were affected by the pandemic, compared with one another and compared with center-based care. The two researchers will augment this analysis with in-depth interviews with home-based care providers. These qualitative interviews will explore how home-based care providers fared during the pandemic.