The United States is creeping toward another child care crisis, which left untended, will carry major economic consequences. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) stabilization dollars that saved the sector from collapse are expiring in fewer than 100 days with The Century Foundation projecting that 3.2 million children could lose their child care as a result.

We need an immediate investment of at least $16 billion per year to stave off shrinking child care spots, staffing shortages and rising prices that will disrupt both families and our economy writ large. This estimate is grounded in the availability of the child care relief investments over time from the CARES, CRRSAA, and ARPA funding streams, which have offered approximately $16 billion to states over each of the last of three years (2021, 2022, and 2023) when evenly distributed. The influx of federal resources has allowed states to make long-deferred investments to make their child care systems work more effectively for families and early educators.

Yet without additional federal investments, even those states that have been effective at tapping into additional revenue streams have been clear that they will not be able to sustain the progress they have made, and children and families in lower-resourced states will continue to fall even further behind.

To read the memo from the National Women’s Law Center and 15 other groups, click here.