Connecticut was already 50,000 child care slots short before the pandemic. Now it’s at 72% of its pre-pandemic capacity. With parents headed back to the office, a new report looks at whether they will be able to afford to go back to work or find a slot.
“Connecticut has the fifth highest cost of child care in the nation,” Lauren Ruth, CT Voices for Children Research and Policy Director, said.
Ruth said in many cases the cost of child care outstrips the cost of sending a child to college.
The average annual cost of care for an infant or toddler in Connecticut is over $15,000 per year, according to CT Voices for Children. The biggest issue parents face, according to the report, is finding affordable child care.
“About 21% of centers closed and did not re-open,” Ruth said.
“As a result of the pandemic the availability of preschool slots has decreased roughly 15%,” Emily Byrne, executive director of CT Voices for Children, said.
It’s also an economic issue.
“The sector brought in $718 million in revenue and government spending on early child care created an estimated $558 million in economic activity,” Byrne said.
That was in 2016. Byrne said their estimate for lost economic activity in 2020 was the equivalent of $9 million every week. That’s not including the parents who left the workforce to take care of their children.
“We believe child care should be considered essential infrastructure. All other infrastructure in our economy receive public support,” Byrne said.
Lamont is proposing to use $26 million in federal funds over the next two years to increase child care subsidies to help low-income families afford child care.