The COVID-19 public health crisis has highlighted and exacerbated the challenges that decades of underinvestment have created within our child care system—families unable to access or afford the care they need, child care workers being paid too little, and child care providers pinching pennies to make ends meet. Now, with unemployment growing at an alarming rate and a deep economic recession seemingly inevitable, families, child care workers, and child care providers confront even greater difficulties trying to provide care for frontline workers—either without appropriate resources or being forced to shut down. Policymakers must act swiftly and boldly to ensure that we can maintain and strengthen our child care infrastructure for the families who need it during this public health emergency, and for all of us who will need it in the future, once the emergency is over. To ensure a sustained and equitable economic recovery that works for everyone, especially for those who are hit the hardest—women, communities of color, low-income families, people with disabilities—policymakers must provide an immediate, significant infusion of funding for child care as well as invest in structural improvements in the child care industry. With many families working from home and shouldering caregiving responsibilities and frontline workers struggling to find and afford child care, this COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call: the child care workforce and child care assistance are critical family supports and engines of our economy. Families need access to child care assistance, and we all need a strong child care system now and in the future.

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