Child care workers are the backbone of our economy. High-quality child care allows parents to enter, remain, and advance in the workforce, and is particularly important for mothers, over a million of whom were pushed out of work during 2020. Child care workers also play an essential role in supporting children’s learning and healthy development—more critical than ever for children experiencing the disruption of the public health crisis. Yet even before the pandemic began, child care workers—nearly all of whom are women, disproportionately Black women and Latinas—were underpaid and undervalued.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the child care industry has suffered massive job losses. Between February 2020 and April 2020, the industry lost 373,300 jobs, over a third of its workforce, with women accounting for 94.8% of those losses. As of May 2021, the child care workforce is only 87.1% as large as it was in February 2020, meaning more than 1 in 8 (12.9%) child care jobs are still lost over a year into the pandemic.