To stabilize the child care sector during the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in March 2021, included $24 billion in child care stabilization grants and $15 billion in supplemental child care discretionary funds to states. The ARPA child care stabilization funds provided critical support to child care programs, early educators, and families with young children. However, the $24 billion Child Care Stabilization funds expired on September 30, 2023, removing an essential support from early educators and families with young children. Meanwhile, at least 11 states and the District of Columbia have dedicated significant new state funding to grants to child care providers, programs to support their child care workforces, or other solutions that directly support providers over the past two years.

NWLC’s analysis of Census Household Pulse Survey data finds that the share of respondents with children under 12 years old in their household who lacked child care increased from 17.8 percent to 23.1 percent between fall 2023 and spring 2024 in states without significant additional state funding to support the child care sector. Additionally, in the 11 states and DC where significant additional state investments in child care programs and providers have been made, the share of women respondents with children under age 12 who wanted to work but reported not working for pay because they were caring for a child not in school or child care decreased from 45.3% to 31.9%.