Harnessing the American Rescue Plan Act to Support Innovation in Child Care


Thursday, June 24, 2021


12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.


Jessica Monge Coria
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco


Community Development FinanceLabor MarketsWorkforce Participation

This webinar explored how states can use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to provide relief and advance systemic change in the child care field. ARPA will bring an unprecedented amount of funding to this critical sector of our economy, but these funds are not ongoing. Watch the recording and learn how to use ARPA funds to change the long-term sustainability and scalability of child care while centering the needs of providers and working families.

This event was hosted by the Low Income Investment Fund and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco as part of the Investing in the Future of Child Care initiative.

Recording of Harnessing the American Rescue Plan Act to Support Innovation in Child Care webinar. June 24, 2021 (video, 58:01 minutes).


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Angie Garling, Low Income Investment Fund:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the webinar: Harnessing the American Rescue Plan Act to Support Innovation and Child Care. I’m Angie Garling, vice-president for Early Care and Education at the Low-Income Investment Fund. It’s my pleasure to open this event, which is co-hosted by the Low-Income Investment Fund or LIIF and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco as part of the investing in the future of childcare initiative. We launched this initiative last year to take a deep dive into the challenges facing the childcare market, as well as the investments in partnerships needed to support childcare providers, not just as organization supporting an important social service, but also as small businesses. As part of this initiative, we created a 20 member steering committee representing the nine Western states and other national stakeholders. We surveyed them to find out what they needed to help them make the case to their states on how to spend stimulus dollars.

As a result, today the majority of our speakers are members of our steering committee and we’re happy to have them feature our expertise. I wanted to say one thing about this webinar, because there are many webinars out there right now on how states can spend dollars efficiently and effectively. Where I think we are going to be a little different is in talking specifically about innovation, talking from a business angle, and then also speaking with the finance sector, as well as the early care and education sector in mind. So I hope you’ll listen for these things as we go on today. This webinar is really going to be a conversation. So you’re not going to see deck slides, you’re going to be hearing from these folks that we’re really excited to introduce to you today.

So today’s webinar is to discuss how the American Rescue Plan Act or ARPA funds can be used as a starting point for ongoing revenue generation for childcare, and to advocate beyond the sector to promote long-term sustainability and scalability of childcare while centering the needs of providers and working families. So today’s program has two segments. In the first one, I’ll be having a conversation with Denise Tanata from The Children’s Cabinet in Nevada, and also with Elizabeth Gaines from the Children’s Funding Project. We’re going to talk about how states can harness ARPA funding to build a strong foundation for the future of the childcare fields. And then in the second segment, Jessica Coria with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco will lead a conversation with Humberto Estratalán from UNITE-LA, and Shelly Masur from the Council for a Strong America about the involvement of the business sector in designing and leveraging the investment of the ARPA funds in early care and education.

So I’m going to start with just also a few housekeeping things. So we’re going to use up-voting today, which means that you can use the Q&A function to ask questions and upvote questions you would like to hear answered, or questions that you may have yourself. So please feel free to do that in the Q&A section. And then in the chat section, others will also be dropping in links to reports and other things that we think you may find useful as you listen today. Okay. So let’s start the first conversation. I would like to welcome Denise and Elizabeth. I want to say that Denise Tanata is the Nevada Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems director at The Children’s Cabinet. She has the distinct responsibility and key position in Nevada to really help convene stakeholders and help make recommendations for how Nevada should be spending its economic stimulus money for childcare.

So we’re very pleased to have her here today, because as a history, she has a very long history as an advocate for early care and education in Nevada. Now, she is in this key position to advance recommendations. And then second, we have Elizabeth Gaines, who’s the founder and executive director of the Children’s Funding Project. She founded the project to help communities and states expand equitable opportunities for children and youth through strategic public financing. She’s an expert on children’s policy and has worked with communities in nearly all 50 states to establish children’s cabinets, conduct fiscal maps, and pursued dedicated funding for youth. So we’re really glad to have Elizabeth and Denise here today.

So Elizabeth and Denise, I just came from a ribbon cutting for a childcare program in the Mission District of San Francisco, where three years in the making, a center was able to open a beautiful center co-located with housing in a high need area. It was just a great reminder of how we need beautiful spaces, for not just the children, but also for the teachers. And so that really kind of helped ground me in the work that I did in coming here to talk with you all today. So I’d really love to hear a little bit, we’ll start with Denise, but then Elizabeth, about your work, and an overview of how Nevada and then other states, particularly in the Western region where the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank works, are planning to support innovation in childcare using ARPA funding. Denise.

Denise Tanata, The Children’s Cabinet:

Thank you, Angie for inviting me. I just have to say, Elizabeth, it’s good to see you again too. In Nevada, historically we’ve ranked pretty low on a lot of social indicators over the years. We haven’t necessarily been known for investing a lot of state dollars. So we’ve had a very heavy reliance on federal funding here in Nevada. I’m based in Las Vegas, where about 70% of our population resides in the state. We’ve been hit, especially hard by the pandemic, having primarily a tourism industry. We still have a lot of large casinos, which are major employers that are closed. During the pandemic, it was the first time ever that some of our casinos actually had to close their doors, and this is for most of our workers that need their families.

So our plan is really focused on, first, building off of those, the CARES funding, the source of funding, which we’re still getting out to providers. Initially very much focused on response, so how do we keep these providers open so that we can start the families that still need that care? But also, really looking now in particular as our economy is beginning to recover of how we can support staff, how we can not just recover back to what we were, but really to reimagine what our early childhood system is in our state and to rebuild it in a way that is sustainable. One of the other big issues that we had in the state of Nevada is just in large amount of growth, we’ve had one of the largest population growth over the past several decades, then a lot of other states and our infrastructure just hasn’t kept up with that.

So a lot of the funding that we’re getting right now, I mean, obviously we’ll be doing our provider stabilization grants, which is the vast majority of the funding that we’ll be receiving, but even trying to integrate into those grants opportunities to support long-term sustainability and infrastructure in addition to providing financial relief for families. A lot of that is really focused on our providers and our teachers of looking at things like wages and benefits. How do we incentivize them to even come back into the workforce? Which is probably the number one issue we’re hearing from our providers right now is, as people are going back to work, they’re getting requests for care, but they don’t have the staff to really go back to full capacity.

But also looking beyond that, we’re in the process of upgrading our data systems and putting in evaluation components, really focusing on how we can support the business capacity at our early childhood providers. So not just our centers, but also providing those supports to our family, friend, and neighbor, or family child care. In Nevada, we know that our licensed capacity needs only about 35%. That’s the need for care, and that’s just the kids that have both parents in the workforce. So we know about 65% of our kids right now are receiving care in homes and places that aren’t even connected to the system. So we’re going to be putting a lot of effort into recruitment incentives of those providers, so we can bring some quality components and really focusing on how we can build the capacity of our state of licensed and regulated high quality slots for … particularly in our childcare deserts, which about 70% of our population lives in a childcare desert.

Angie Garling, Low Income Investment Fund:

Thank you, Denise. So Elizabeth, how does that resonate, and Nevada is doing with some of the other states and local groups that you’ve been working with and hearing from? How do you feel like some of the states are planning to use those ARPA dollars?

Elizabeth Gaines, Children’s Funding Project:

Yeah. And just to quickly give a sense of who we are at Children’s Funding Project, because we take a very laser focused look at the money that’s in these systems to support children and youth, honestly. I have to say in our work with advocates or policymakers or various public agencies, funders in local regions, we are helping them to figure out, just making sense of the full breadth of American Rescue Plan dollars, because I think it’s very easy for us to sort of find ourselves in some siloed only just thinking about the CCDF and childcare stabilization dollars in this moment. But if you look across the full spectrum of things that have happened in the six packages that the federal government has passed over the last year and change, there’s about $5 trillion that they’ve invested in everything, and somewhere depending on how you count it, between 300 and $500 billion into the child and youth space.

So it’s not just that childcare money, it’s thinking creatively about how to work with schools and the ESSER money, the education stabilization money. It’s thinking about how to get your state and local governments to think creatively about the role that childcare plays in their infrastructure and what you were talking about Denise, in terms of, Las Vegas is a perfect example of this, that if you don’t have good quality childcare, your state or your locality is not going to be able to recover in the way that you want. And so how do you use even some of the most flexible dollars or those state and local fiscal recovery dollars? So I know in my 25 year career, I’ve never seen such an awesome sort of infusion from the federal government, but I would just say yes, it’s a once in a generation opportunity, it requires a lot of coordinated effort because if we don’t coordinate in those big buckets of funding that are coming down to localities, we’re going to miss groups, we’re going to miss kids, we’re going to have inequitable distribution and potentially inequitable outcomes. So we’ve really got to focus on coordinating across those things.

I would also just say, if we’re going to have world-class childcare systems, like what you just said, you were at the ribbon cutting, we’ve got to move from the scarcity mindset that we’ve been in to an abundance mindset where we are thinking about … And we’re seeing some states start to do this. Clearly in California, the governor has indicated some unprecedented investments in kids as a way for California to recover from what’s just happened. I think that’s a smart bed, obviously. But there’s a lot of other places beyond California that are actually thinking about doing things like that. We’re working in the state of Louisiana, where the department of education is trying to work with local communities. There are Ready Start Networks to really think about, okay, once this federal investment starts to wane, which yes, we hope that there will be a new infusion in the American Families Plan and beyond in a robust federal childcare investment.

But if we know we need $140 billion a year in this country, and there should be an image somewhere that folks can take a look at, at some point. If we know we need $140 billion annually to run quality childcare in this country, and we were spending 29 billion before the pandemic, that’s 50 billion infusion, which is not annualized. By the way that number, it’s a number that spreads over a number of years and was meant to solve a crisis that we were in, and IPPE and do all kinds of things that were unanticipated. So if you do the math, you recognize that it’s not going to be just a federal infusion, it’s going to have to be a state and local skin in the game as well. And so in the Western states, we’re seeing all kinds of really exciting things happen at the most local level, where it turns out voters actually want this. We just ran a poll a month ago in a county in Washington State, 78% of voters said we want the children’s fund and we want to have a high income earner tax to pay for it.

People are ready to put money down to say, this is a critical part of our social infrastructure. And by the way, it’s going to be necessary to recover economically as well. I could go on and on about this, but I would like you ask a question.

Angie Garling, Low Income Investment Fund:

Yeah, but that’s great, Elizabeth. No, I think you and Denise both made a couple of really good points in thinking about, this is a grit. We have to bring in the workforce. We have to bring in physical infrastructure. We have to bring in building a solid foundation. And then also going from the scarcity mindset to the abundance mindset, it really plays out at the local level, when we talk to local operators who have been so used to scraping by, and we don’t want to do that anymore, our childcare educators deserve better, our families deserve better, our communities deserve better. I know that we have been talking about a lot of acronyms, but mostly what they are the ways of stimulus funding. One that I hadn’t heard of until fairly recently is GEAR money, which we work very closely with the District of Columbia and they’re actually dedicating all of their GEAR money, which is a subset of one of the economic stimulus rounds that’s specific for education, but they’re dedicating it to early care and education.

And so, I think Elizabeth brought up a good point around how there’s more flexibility in some of the non childcare stimulus dollars, for example, that you can actually use for construction and major construction and other facilities things, it’s great to make sure that childcare advocates are partnering with their local and their state entities, governments to think about the importance of childcare and layering that funding, and even looking at additional local funding, like you said, in that county, in Washington. So I wanted to ask both of you another question, what are two of the things that states should really have in mind when they’re investing in these funds? What are two things that they should probably avoid? Let’s start with Denise.

Denise Tanata, The Children’s Cabinet:

I think probably one of the biggest things that people need to keep in mind that we’re really focused on, not necessarily easy to do but is creating a sustainability plan, because I think for Nevada, we’re talking about 367 million just in childcare, which I know in places like California doesn’t sound like a lot. But for Nevada, it’s just a huge amount of money. So as we’re looking at things like, even reimbursement rates under our subsidy program, trying to create some type of wage incentive programs for teachers, startup grants, how do we keep that going? And so really looking … I think the infrastructure piece is critical, not just putting data systems and things in place, but how do you create efficiencies in the system?

I agree 100%, I think I have it on my notes, working with the local government, so at the study level, at the county level to really identify opportunities to leverage resources. And so not just these ARP funds, but looking at … I just had a conversation with some folks from the City of Henderson. So, they have reinvestment dollars and they’ve shown a commitment to early education. City of Las Vegas has made some significant investments over the years in building high quality childcare centers. So how can we build on that momentum and leverage those resources appropriately and support each other based on what those requirements are?

I think the other piece is really around the advocacy, the marketing, the outreach, bringing in some of those non-traditional partners to really rise up as champions. As mentioned, I’ve been doing this work in Nevada for over 20 years. We’re at a critical point right now where childcare early education is in the spotlight. I think utilizing that opportunity to bring those champions in now, not just for the recovery but really for building that long-term infrastructure, building better sustainability plans. So, bringing in the governor’s office, bringing in economic development. We’re piloting a program right now where we’re using WIOA funds to actually get trained up and provide funding for some young people who are interested in getting into the field. So I think it’s just being innovative with the resources and keeping nothing off the table.

I’m spending a lot of my time right now having conversations with everybody. I just got out of a meeting with our quality rating improvement system coaches to ask them what their needs were, what do they see as needing improvement. So everything from talking to parents to those coaches, those intermediaries up to all of our state level agencies, there’s opportunities for leveraging resources through Medicaid, through our child welfare agencies, health and human services, all of those places. So I think it’s just [crosstalk].

Angie Garling, Low Income Investment Fund:

Yeah. That’s great, Denise. Thank you. Elizabeth, I’d love to see what you have to add and also anything you think that states should avoid.

Elizabeth Gaines, Children’s Funding Project:

I mean, it was sort of music to my ears because she was saying all the thing that I’ve been … We’re putting a blog out today that I wrote about how we need an urgent lifeline for people like Denise in states and communities around helping them get the capacity that they need to manage and do the data systems and do the recruitment and the training and the coordination with their peers around this American Rescue Plan. So if I had to give state leaders, both inside and outside of government advice, it would be to get first, just spend these next couple of months getting a complete handle on American Rescue Plan state and local funds, not just that siloed view that I mentioned earlier, but really thinking about how you collectively spend those dollars. And document and track what you’re doing, because we’re going to have to come back and look at how this stuff was spent, if we’re going to make a solid case for it in the future.

And then five months from now maybe, start putting down on paper the full set of resources that you have to work with federal, state, local, and forecast, where you’re going. Like Denise was saying, the sustainability plan, we call it a strategic financing plan where the gaps are. And then be sure you’re coordinating across other systems. And then, I think within the next year, we need to start seeing some really robust strategic financing plans that are based on whatever your most recent big visioning strategic plan is. The one that you all made, that had aspirational goals for what you wanted to see happen for kids. And then everybody looked at each other like, “How are we going to pay for this?” Start funding that thing. And then let’s take all of the innovative financing strategies. We’ve been cataloging lots of things that people are doing around the country. CDFIs are a part of the picture, community benefit agreements, local public dedicated funds. I mean, the list goes on. There’s many ways to think about fully funding this work in the out years, but you’ve got to have a cohesive plan for that.

And then, I guess the one thing I would say, be careful in lessons learned as we’ve watched a lot of communities get really eager about universal pre-K and funding that. It turns out, like from our research and the work we’ve done on public opinion and various things, we need to balance childcare and pre-K and the needs of the whole system so that we don’t end up with some unintended consequences in terms of the economy of how those things work. So just making sure that we’re moving all boats along together and taking care of that.

Angie Garling, Low Income Investment Fund:

Yeah. That’s a great point, Elizabeth, in thinking about unintended consequences. I’m also really glad that you mentioned CDFIs. LIIF is a community development financial institution. The reason I was at that ribbon cutting was because we helped finance the construction of the childcare center using an innovative combination of city grant dollars, not state, not federal, but city grant dollars, which were generated through a developer fee. So another innovative funding source. So when new companies come in and build buildings or new housing developers come in, they have to either build a childcare center in their development, or they have to contribute to a pot of money, which helps build childcare. But we also mix that with tax credits in order to provide even more affordable financing. So community development, financial institutions are also an important partner in thinking through how to finance the physical infrastructure, and then also to look at business sustainability.

But I love how you talked about … If anything, we hope that all of the attendees today will leave thinking that the stimulus money is temporary, it is to help stabilize the field and we need to continue to advocate and let the media, and let elected officials know that this is building a strong foundation for additional dollars that we need to operate an effective and thriving early care and education system. So thank you. We have a question that came in that I want to read. It says, I live and work in a rural context, which has very particular challenges. I’m hoping we can have a discussion about what has worked in rural communities or what might work. Denise, I’d love for you to talk about that because I know that the majority of your state is rural.

Denise Tanata, The Children’s Cabinet:

Yeah, and it’s one of our big barrier because 70% of our population is in one county, and then most of the remainder is rural. So we are looking at that as well. I think what we’re seeing in our rural communities is primarily a lot of family, friend, and neighbor care. So I mentioned that a little bit earlier, where we’re going to actually be doing a huge statewide focus on recruiting our family, friend, and neighbor. So those that we know are already out there doing it. And not just asking them to sign up to be licensed because we know that those are some major hurdles with licensing for those home-based providers, but really trying to offer them support.

So we’re looking at some of the national programs that are doing some of this work to provide the support. So with curriculum, we are opening up or we plan to open up our sustainability grants through ARP, to our family, friend, and neighbor providers, where we’ll be providing them with the resources that they need to be CCDF eligible, which is one of the federal requirements for that. So we are putting some resources into that. So right now, it’s really about getting them connected to their supports and services.

Angie Garling, Low Income Investment Fund:

Great. Thanks, Denise. Elizabeth, anything to add?

Elizabeth Gaines, Children’s Funding Project:

I would just add that in some ways, given the federal infusion, I think rural communities are in a better position to be able to take, as I said, the collective set of resources that have come in, going to schools, going to county and city governments, going to your state office of childcare, and pull those people together. It’s harder to do that, honestly, in some of the bigger cities and places. And so being able to pull those people together and just really work together to make a plan, I think you’re in a good position for that in a rural community.

Denise Tanata, The Children’s Cabinet:

I can just follow up too, because I think one of the things that we’re hearing in our rural communities, we’ve even heard rumors about some of our rural counties potentially giving the money back. A lot of that may be political, cultural context. So I think it’s also important, we want to leverage those local resources as much as we can and help support that, but I think it’s also important at the state level that we’re keeping an eye on, if those funds are going back from those smaller jurisdictions, if they’re being utilized for other places and not penalizing those communities by not partnering or not leveraging resources, but quite frankly, and putting a spotlight on some of those communities where they may or may not have the support from their local government to make those investments and making sure that as a state we’re doing that more, providing that support.

Angie Garling, Low Income Investment Fund:

Yeah. That’s great.

Elizabeth Gaines, Children’s Funding Project:

I just want to say one thing about, sort of a stereotype that I think a lot of us have about rural communities, that they are always tax averse. In particular, we’ve supported a few communities, largely rural communities. Typically, conservative communities who have gone to their voters and asked the voters directly. I’m thinking of Escambia County, Florida, this most recent November election where they both voted for Trump and they also voted for the Escambia County children’s services fund. If you ask people in a local community if they support and want to support their kids, they’re likely to do it. So we sometimes have a notion that if you’re tax averse, you’re tax averse, but there’s a special place that I think people have in their heart for voting for kids.

Angie Garling, Low Income Investment Fund:

Yeah. That’s wonderful. Thank you. So I wanted to say a huge thanks to Denise and Elizabeth for giving us their expertise and talking to us about how things are working in Nevada and other Western states, and wanted to just also let people know that there are a lot of other great resources. Underlying everything that we’ve been talking about is how are we addressing equity? And the children’s Equity Project has a great publication about how we can use ARPA funding to address equity in early care and education.

And then speaking of rural, National Association of Counties also has a good report. And then LIIF has co-authored a report about how early care and education facilities funding can be infused using ARPA dollars. And so I think those will be dropped into the chat. But what I wanted to do now is turn it over to my colleague and someone I’ve really enjoyed getting to know over the last year, Jessica Coria with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, who’s going to talk, and with her speakers about making the business case for economic stimulus dollars for early care and education and building a strong foundation. Take it away, Jessica.

Jessica Coria, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:

Thanks so much, Angie. I’m so excited to be here with all of you today. At the SF Fed, our vision is for a healthy and inclusive economy in which everyone can participate and no one is left behind. The way we work toward that vision is conducting research and fostering partnerships, some of which I’m going to showcase today to remove barriers to economic participation for low-income communities and communities of color. I’m really excited today to be joined by Humberto Estratalán, the director of policy at UNITE-LA, and Shelly Masur, the state director for California at the Council for a Strong America. Humberto and Shelley sit in very unique places in our work because they are really tasked with bringing all of these external key stakeholders that we talk a lot about in the childcare sector as being so important to continuing to support the sector that we know is so important for our workforce. They really approach it through that business lens, and through again, non-traditional stakeholders that you wouldn’t typically think of when you think of childcare.

So I wanted to first turn it over to Shelly. At the Council for a Strong America which is a bipartisan national nonprofit that unites five organizations working with various important community stakeholders who promote evident space solutions for future generations of America. What are those messages that have really resonated with the leaders you work with in your work?

Shelly Masur, Council for a Strong America:

Yeah. Thanks, Jessica. Thanks for having us here today. And thanks to the first panel, super informative and all the great questions in the chat. So my [inaudible], the Council for a Strong America organizes leaders, and I’ll just delineate them in business, law enforcement and retired military. Our members advocate for policies, programs and investments, and enable kids to be healthy, well-educated and prepared for success. So as such, each of our organizations brings its own lens to our childcare work. For example, our retired military leaders approach it from a national security lens. For our law enforcement leaders, they view it as a community safety issue. And for our business leaders, they approach it from a strong economy and a diverse workforce perspective.

So, one example is we recently had 134 police, chief, sheriffs and DA sign on to a letter to the California governor encouraging him to raise childcare provider rates because they know that a strong start for kids makes them more likely to be successful in school and ultimately puts them onto a path to success in life. Another example, our ReadyNation or business leaders issues a strong economy and a diverse workforce, as I mentioned, in the future are super critical. So we recently released a report on equity in early childhood, and one of our ReadyNation members was quoted as saying, investing in early childhood is a win for children of color as they get a better start and for our economy, as it leads to a more equitable future workforce.

Recently we’ve had members placed op-eds in a variety of places, including some business journals and focused on one … The title was a strong economy now relies on childcare investments now. Another one was about future workforce is dependent on meeting our childcare needs. So you can see if there’s really a through line with all of the members about how they’re thinking about now and future and why childcare is important to that.

Jessica Coria, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:

Thanks, Shelly. Yeah. One of the things that really stood out from that report is about how much our California workforce relies heavily on workers of color, 61%. They really carry a disproportionate share of economic challenges from higher unemployment rates to lower average pay. So to think about the pay situation, because so many of our childcare providers are actually themselves women of color who often receive lower average pay than we would hope or expect for people who are so critical to our economy. I know UNITE-LA just actually put together at the beginning of this year, an amazing report that looks specifically at the impact of paying childcare providers adequately based on that essential nature of their work. Humberto, can you share a little bit about UNITE-LA, as well as what that study was found in terms of the results of what would happen if we had a professional ECE workforce?

Humberto Estratalán, UNITE-LA:

Yes, definitely. Thank you, Jessica, the Federal Reserve System and LIIF for inviting UNITE-LA to talk on such an important topic. We’re really happy to be a part of this, speaking to people across the country. As Elizabeth and your previous panel shared, this is an issue that’s on both sides of the aisle; red, blue purple. It doesn’t matter where you stand investing in childcare, paying our workforce. Adequate wages is something that we all want. So UNITE-LA, just for those of you that don’t know us, we’re a nonprofit organization established in 1998 to work as an intermediary between the business community and our partners in education at the foundation level, and nonprofit advocates to be just an intermediate with the business community on Cradle to Career Policy issues, systems change and programs. And so the study you’re talking about, Jessica, is a Beacon Economics report.

I don’t want to think it’s bad, but about 10 years ago, when I started my career in early childhood education, as I’m developing talking points for meetings with elected official on the hill, either in Sacramento or DC, it was two different talking points, one for Republicans and one for Democrats. Well, the Democrats, we talked about the importance of our children. We always say that our children are our future. They’re our kids, we care about them, we should invest in them. To the Republicans, would take that stance but would talk more about the economic benefits, return on investment, like paying our workforce more, how that’s going to contribute to tax revenue, which then go back into the communities. We don’t have to do that now. We know that critical investments are needed, and so we use similar talking points.

In terms of the Beacon Report, this report was with … Beacon Economics is an economist here in LA County, based out of Los Angeles. We worked with them to develop the economic outputs that would come by us, paying our workforce the adequate way that they deserve. As you mentioned, our ECE providers nationwide are mostly women of color. During the pandemic, National Women’s Law Center reported that they won’t put one million jobs that were lost. Over 800,000 of them were mostly women of color. And so what this report goes into is paying our workforce adequate wages that kindergarten teachers and elementary teachers make, something that the field has been working towards for decades now, and how much that would contribute to our local economies.

And this study could be replicated nationwide, we just change the numbers of the population. But if we were to invest in our 30,000 plus ECE workers and raise their wages to kindergarten and similar elementary wages, that alone would create an additional 2.7 to close a five billion in additional earnings, which would then infuse at least 1.5 billion in additional tax revenues at the local state and federal level. And so what the Beacon Economics report goes into is the amount of workforce that we currently have in LA county, how much we need and how much paying them adequate wages would contribute to our local state and federal economy.

Jessica Coria, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:

Thanks so much Humberto. That actually really kind of lends me to another question that I wanted to ask Shelly, because you often have to kind of make the value pitch to your leaders when you’re getting them to give you a quote or write an op-ed. And so often, I’ve talked to small business owners in the past and they said, we understand that our employees struggle with child care needs, but we don’t want to get involved in that because we don’t want to be on the hook for having to take care of that. We’re trying to struggle to make our own ends meet and we can’t be taking on additional needs of our employees. So can you really help us understand how we can make childcare a win-win for both working families and their employers?

Shelly Masur, Council for a Strong America:

Yeah. I mean, it’s a great question. I think if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the critical nature of childcare to our business’s ability to operate. I think Humberto was talking about the return on investments, but bottom line is without people to work businesses can’t operate. And if people don’t have childcare, they can’t go to work. So we know anyone with school-aged kids or little kids in the past year and a half, they’ve been balancing online school, they’ve been trying to meet online with their colleagues. Whatever else has been going on in the background, hopefully you won’t hear my dog barking while I’m talking, but let me just give you a couple of examples.

So yesterday I called a customer service rep who was working from her home. I heard a baby in the background. I was just chatting with her and I was empathizing with her about how hard it must be for her to do her job and to care for her baby. She told me that she can’t afford full-time childcare. Her husband usually helps, he was out of town so she just had to balance it all. I mean, if you look at the statistics, Humberto mentioned them a second ago, but one in four women considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers compared to one in five men, with even higher numbers for women with children and for black women. Our business leaders know they need people to come to work. And so they know that they need to figure out a way to make it possible for that to happen. And by supporting childcare, they can do it. But let me give you another example.

One of our ReadyNation members who’s a dad of two young kids, he’s a senior executive in his company. He and I were talking about how hard the last year has been. He shared with me that his boss asked him when he was coming back to the office. Our member said to his boss, “When we have childcare for our kids, I’ll be back.” That’s someone who has a lot of options. So if we think about the childcare deserts which were mentioned earlier, 60% of families who live in childcare deserts. 64% of black families, 67% of Latino families in California. And then over the last year, we’ve lost 33,000 childcare slots during the pandemic. And so we know, and our business leaders know that they need childcare to be open, they need it to be successful, they need it to be affordable or their workers can’t work.

Jessica Coria, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:

Yeah. Thank you so much for that, Shelly. I know some of us on the call are not in California, and if you want to be able to kind of run some numbers to be able to talk to your own state leaders or business leaders, the Federal Reserve has just launched a data visualization tool that my colleague dropped in the chat, which actually shows what the economic gains are to state level economies if we close the racial and gender equity gaps that exist in the economy. So, for example with, if we’re talking about women who traditionally are the ones having to stay home because of inadequate childcare, if we were able to close that gender equity gap, what the total return would be for the economy, you can kind of go through and play with some of that tools that we just made available for all 50 states on the District of Columbia.

So turning back to Humberto, as we reopen, June 15th, it just seems like yesterday, but it has only nine days ago. We’re not even a full two weeks into California’s reopening. There’s an opportunity, we keep talking about, let’s not make the same mistakes of the past. Let’s use the pandemic as an opportunity to address those underlying inequities in our economy. How do you feel that you’re able to really explain how childcare can fit into these principles that I know UNITE-LA has put out recently for this new economy?

Humberto Estratalán, UNITE-LA:

Well, thank you. Yes, we’re at a point where, “kind of a restart”, where we could definitely take all the lessons learned, say my condolences for all the families worldwide and everyone who’s dealt with this horrible, horrible pandemic, the worst in over 100 years. We can’t start over without starting better, Without rebuilding or just strengthening the programs and policies that we had in place before we do a huge disservice to all of us who have dealt with the past year if we started back the way things were. So we have to restart in a new way, in an equitable way. And so UNITE-LA published our principles for a new economy as we started to come out of the pandemic. As people started to get vaccinated, we decided that we needed to be courageous, we needed to create a different approach to how we saw our country, and the world specifically.

And so we have 12 principles that talk about creating a just and equitable country for all of us to thrive. And so the panel before us spoke about the inequities and the ECE workforce, we’re continuing to talk about them as well. And so, as we think about restarting after June 15th, and some states before us and after us, we really need to think about those families that kept us going over the last 15 months at this point. Those that went to work when we couldn’t. We need to be really equitable and continuing to invest in childcare. Elizabeth mentioned earlier, the 50 billion that we got today for this year, us advocates were really happy, but not really because we need a lot more than that.

California just came out this last year with our ECE master plan, where it says we need billions and billions a year in California alone, billions that we don’t have yet to fully fund an adequate Zero to Five system. And so we need to continue to advocate. But as we began, we have to start somewhere. Let’s start at an inequitable way. We’re all fortunate to be most of us from home. You can’t tell because I had this backdrop on, but I’m in my daughter’s room. She’s having lunch. Our essential workforce, they can’t do that. So if we can make things equitable, I’m sure you’ve all seen that picture of the little kids watching the baseball game, let’s give them childcare so they can go to work. We’re at work figuring it out. Let’s make sure that they have adequate affordable, high quality developmentally appropriate childcare so that they can go to work. Let’s make sure that those that are taking care of their children are getting paid what they need to survive.

In LA county alone, nearly 30% of our ECE workforce is “low-income.” They depend on some sort of subsidy to whether to purchase food, to put their own children in childcare, or for transportation. And so as we think of restarting our economy, we have to start with those that kept our economy afloat. We have to continue to invest in communities of color, in our communities of disabled citizens, our immigrant communities, and make sure that we’re doing things in an equitable way so that when the next either pandemic or emergency occurs, which will happen, we’re better prepared. I’ll just add to that, that a lot of us on here, Angie and the group before us have been doing this for decades, and we’re going to continue to do this for decades. There’s going to be someone 30 years from now who’s stayed. I’ve been doing this for many years.

Let’s continue to solidify our systems, our advocacy, because even as we just mentioned, 50 billion is a drop in the bucket. We’ll take it, but it took a pandemic of great proportions for us to start realizing how much we needed to invest, it shouldn’t get to that point. And so let’s use this opportunity to continue engaging those that are finally engaged, but we know that we need to continue to work harder. We can’t give up and say that, no, we’re okay with the 50 billion. As most of you already know, these are one-time funds. We can rely on one-time funding to build our systems that are preparing our future workforce and our future astronauts, doctors, lawyers, and ECE advocates.

Jessica Coria, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:

Thank you so much, Humberto. Shelley, I’m going to turn it over to … We have so many questions. Thank you so much for all your questions that you’re putting into the Q&A. I think this one you might be able to best answer. Do you have some concrete ways businesses are helping to increase access to childcare? Either from larger or small businesses. The question was … this person was particularly interested in any examples, and like the hospitality or agricultural industries, just in case you might have some of those.

Shelly Masur, Council for a Strong America:

Yeah. I mean, it’s a great question. People are asking that question, I think, all across the country and locally, and it depends on the business. Some of the larger businesses are looking at actually, and some do, provide childcare on-site for their employees. And if there’s space, which there usually isn’t, they open it up to the community. Others will provide a childcare subsidy, or work with a provider to make that available. So I live in just South of San Francisco in San Mateo County. One of the large businesses around here is Amgen. Amgen has been actually spending the last year trying to figure out how to support their workforce with childcare. One of their chief of staff is a ReadyNation member, and she’s talked about a study that they’ve done.

Here, the land is too expensive, so they really can’t build their own facility. So they’re trying to figure out how they can partner with another agencies so that their employees have access to childcare so they feel confident coming back to work. So those are just a couple of ways that the businesses are doing it. I did want to just say I dropped in the chat. Thank you for mentioning the map that you guys have released. We also just released an interactive map that shows the economic impact of lack of access to childcare. So I put that link in the chat and it’s all across the country.

Humberto Estratalán, UNITE-LA:

I’ll just add really quickly to Shelly’s point. In a perfect world, we would all want to have health care downstairs, or across the street. Google, these big, big, huge corporations are doing this, to add to their work-life kind of harmony package. Unfortunately, especially in California, a lot of our small businesses, a lot of our even bigger businesses can’t do that for a variety of reasons. One of the strategies that UNITE-LA has utilized is working with the corporate and business community, with chambers of commerce to support legislation, to support budget investments, to advocate, as Shelley’s group is doing, to advocate to the governor’s office, to increase investments to the whole pie, to increase investment to the state and federal investments.

That way, as we continue to talk about lifting all systems together, we’re able to do so, because we’re in a place where those of us that have these great high-tech jobs, or other jobs are having this high quality care and those of us that don’t aren’t. And so that’s one of the things that we’re doing, is working with the business community to collectively support certain legislation and budget investments.

Jessica Coria, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:

Great. And actually, Humberto, to that, we had another question if the LA County is specifically pursuing any specific local funding for childcare that you knew of, or you’re hoping to potentially work towards.

Humberto Estratalán, UNITE-LA:

Back to the point I think Elizabeth and her group made about just continued revenue streams. I know Angie has done amazing work on this over in her career. I’ve studied from her and the great things that have been done in San Francisco, LA County. When I got into ECE, it was 2012. I got hired by an organization called Los Angeles Universal Preschool. They’re now Child360. They hired me on then and built a team of public affairs and public policy managers to get a ballot initiative in LA County. This is in 2012, and those conversations had happened before then. That’s still a conversation that’s being had in LA County. LA County, we just elected previous Senator Holly Mitchell who is a huge ECE advocate to the board of supervisors. We have five women leading LA County, the largest county in the country by population and by economy, huge supporters of early childhood education.

So the short answer is yes, we are continuing to work towards funding ECE and Zero to Five. As we know and as I would share with everyone across the country who’s listening, we have to take matters into our own hands and start looking at ways that we could fund the programs that our communities want. As all you know that advocate, ECE is one of 1,000 different subjects and policy matters that people are advocating on behalf of. And so we have to make sure that one, we’re advocating with the best of them, but two, we’re also creating our own pathways to success. That means back to, I think, Elizabeth, again, to her point, Republicans and Democrats want to fund ECE. Some might not want to get tax increases for other issues, but for their children, they will tax themselves.

So yes, let’s continue to talk about how we continue to move the needle on additional revenues. I would be happy to talk to anybody in other parts of the state on how we can work in Adelaide with their chambers of commerce, because we also work with chambers across the nation, not just in California, to start making that business case in their own state.

Jessica Coria, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:

Absolutely. I also wanted to answer one of the questions that was mentioned about working with workforce development boards and the ability to provide childcare for those who are trying to reenter the workforce, training or entering kind of those programs that so many of our workforce investment boards run. Earlier last year in the fall, we actually did a presentation on workforce and featured the National Association of Workforce Board, who has a two generation solution program that they work with their member organizations. They did it in several areas throughout the Western region of Federal Reserve Bank. So I would suggest potentially checking that potential webinar out for some resources, but it is something that we’re definitely looking to build.

I know I am in Southern California with all of my workforce boards because it is so critical as the same way we would get somebody a construction hat or make sure that they are ready to show up for day one for their new job or their apprenticeship. Are we asking if they have young children at home and they have needs for childcare because that’s ultimately going to make them a more successful employee, if we’re helping them navigate through what they’re probably able to potentially take advantage of or some resources that they might not know how to take advantage of in, just network themselves to those resources. One other question that I wanted to kind of … Oh, did you want to follow-up on that, Shelly?

Shelly Masur, Council for a Strong America:

No, I just wanted to follow-up on something Humberto said, which is about the bipartisan nature of support for childcare. We’ve been talking about sustainability and the importance of continuing to invest. I think there’s two things that he said that are really important, one is we have to recognize childcare as a public good. As long as we individually sort of pick off different places, then we’re never going to have the kind of childcare system that we need that’s going to help us really be the strong economy that we can be.

But the second piece is I think as you mentioned at the top, the Council for a Strong America is bipartisan, we do work in a bipartisan way at the federal level and across many different states. We have members in all 50 states. Not all of them are as Blue as California. But everywhere you’re seeing, it is long been a bipartisan issue that people will invest in childcare. One of the things we’re very conscious of in this moment is keeping it a bipartisan issue, making sure that people recognize that just because Biden has proposed quite a bit of money for childcare, that doesn’t mean the Republicans don’t support it as well. Let’s not get into a partisan battle over this, we can save that for some other issues. But for childcare, let’s remain bipartisan on this.

Jessica Coria, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:

Thank you so much, Shelley. Yeah, actually that was one of the things I wanted to kind of wrap us up with, was just the fact that we have all the messages that are there. We have the message for why it’s important to people who want to change our economy and close racial and gender gaps. We have the message for people who care about little kids and want to grow their development. We have the message for small business owners because our childcare providers are critical small business owners.

I think we have all of those advocacy messages available to us. It’s about continuing to ask ourselves the question that I want us to all leave us this, is what is our individual role and our organization’s role in supporting, bolstering this critical sector to promoting a healthy inclusive economy? So I’ll just leave everybody with that. Thank you all for joining us today. We really appreciate your time, and look out for our follow-up email with all the resources we link to today, have a great day.