Event | June 25, 2020

National Home-Based Child Care Report Highlights Importance of HBCC to Economic Strength

The compelling report shows the impact and prevalence of HBCC across the country

Home-based child care is the most common type of care in America, and protecting and strengthening this type of care will be essential to supporting our nation’s working parents, and to bolstering our economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

That was the top-line message in a new report, “Home-Based Child Care: A Surprising Key to Keeping the American Workforce Strong,” released by ReadyNation during a virtual press event on June 24.

Three prominent ReadyNation members, Maxine Clark, CEO of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation and Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Bob Rivers, Chair and CEO of Eastern Bank, and Hugh Welsh, President and General Counsel of DSM North America, joined Jessica Sager, Co-Founder and CEO of All Our Kin, to release the report.

The new report focuses on the important and timely conversation around home-based child care (HBCC), as home-based providers are going to be a crucial piece of helping Americans get back to work in the wake of a pandemic.

The report and the speakers made the case that HBCC should be specifically addressed in any relevant policy changes, such as federal subsidies for working families, child care tax credits, employer incentives, or grants to increase child care options, particularly critical for rural and nontraditional-schedule settings.

Jessica Sager opened the discussion with an overview of All Our Kin’s work, highlighting how investments in resources, training, and support lead to the increased supply, quality, and sustainability of family child care.

“With the right support—like that offered by staffed family child care networks—family child care is, and always has been, a safe, accessible, high-quality child care option for families,“ she explained.

"In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our reliance on the small group size and trusting relationships that are the hallmark of family child care has never been more clear. At the same time, family child care businesses have never been more at risk. Now, more than ever, family child care needs and deserves investments and support that outlast the current moment and build a stronger future for our children, families, and HBCC providers.”

Maxine Clark discussed the appeal of HBCC for so many parents, citing “affordability, trust of the provider, flexible scheduling, or even simply because that kind of care is more readily available,” as just some of the reasons parents gravitate toward this type of child care.

She cautioned, however, that a 20-percent drop in family child care homes in recent years has worsened the existing child care crisis. Clark also commented on the impact of COVID-19, saying that the virus poses a further threat to HBCC.

“As parents have lost their jobs or been working from home during the pandemic-related shutdown, the demand for child care has temporarily dropped,” with the loss of revenue putting additional strain on providers.

Bob Rivers underscored the economic impact of HBCC. He noted that paid HBCC alone generated $9 billion nationwide in 2016, according to the Committee for Economic Development.

Rivers also called attention to some of the specific challenges HBCC providers face, noting that “providers can often be isolated, working at home with few supports. It can also be stressful, with long hours, difficult work, low pay, and few, if any, benefits.”

Rivers added that HBCC providers frequently struggle with the business aspects of providing care.

Finally, Hugh Welsh echoed the other speakers in touting the importance of HBCC in the overall child care “ecosystem,” and discussed specific improvements that are needed to maintain and strengthen HBCC.

“Any potential policy solution that addresses child care must also include home-based child care,” Welsh said, pointing to improvements to quality and sustainability as essential.

“Quality initiatives include home visits by professionals who can help home-based care providers with improving provider-child interactions through coaching, consultation, and mentoring,” he explained.

“Sustainability initiatives include material supports, such as grants to help pay for supplies and other necessities, or lending libraries with shared resources for home-based providers,” Welsh added, mentioning that sustainability measures include administrative supports, such as technical assistance for providers on how to operate a small business.

A condensed version of the event may be found HERE. The full version is embedded below.

Please note that, due to technical difficulties, Maxine Clark’s audio is unclear for a portion of her initial remarks in the full-length version.

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