Episode 229
Jul 7, 2020

We can’t reopen the economy without solving child care

America's child care system has been in crisis long before this pandemic.

It’s kind of a circular problem: If we’re ever going to get people back to work, they need child care. But those child care workers are out of work, too.

That’s leaving aside the nationwide reopenings and reclosings, and whether its even medically advisable to go back to work right now. As Congress weighs new coronavirus relief programs, both parties are making a point to devote billions to child care. But America’s child care system has been in crisis long before this pandemic.

“It’s not really a system, as we know systems. It is a patchwork of like 675,000 different programs, most of them are not licensed. Some of them are programs with multiple kids. Some of them are single providers and homes,” Washington Post education reporter Valerie Strauss said. “It’s very difficult for many parents to find affordable child care even in the best of times. So there is absolutely no way to fully reopen the economy without fixing this problem. And there are no answers.”

Today Strauss will walk us through why the child care businesses, worth tens of billions of dollars, is in so much trouble. Plus we’ll talk about the obstacles to reopening day cares and schools, and the inequalities around child care that this pandemic has exposed.

Later, we hear from a Vermont sheep farmer with a new side gig, get some feedback to our education episode with Scott Galloway, and Kai Ryssdal answers the Make Me Smart question.

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Here’s a list of some of the stuff we’re talking about today:

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer