Pandemic Childcare dry up with RTO (Return to Office) on the rise

1 min read
September 8, 2023
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As parents feel a semblance of normalcy with schools in session and a seemingly buoyant economy, an impending “childcare cliff” is set to throw a wrench in the works. Without Congressional intervention, $24 billion for pandemic childcare relief is on the verge of depletion. This isn’t just about keeping childcare centers open; it’s about preventing a surge in costs for millions of parents


Between the lines: While some reports from places like Utah and Idaho point to already escalating fees, precise closure numbers are hard to pin down, given the country’s patchy childcare system data. Yet, whether it’s closures or fee hikes, middle-class and working-class families are the ones bracing for the major hit.

Historical context: Even before this, childcare was costly. 2022 data revealed annual toddler care costs in some states surpassed $12,000. And as everything from labor to supplies rises in cost, childcare is outpacing general inflation.

What to watch: As the 2024 elections loom, this could become a political hot potato. An injection of $16 billion is the suggested immediate fix. But beyond the politics and temporary patches, there’s a fundamental issue: the U.S. needs a more sustainable childcare solution.

The big picture: The rising childcare costs come at a peculiar time: companies are staunchly advocating the end of working from home with strict return to office (RTO) policies, especially so-called “pronatalists”. This push and unaffordable childcare risks exacerbating America’s already declining birth rate. The message is clear: without a sustainable solution to childcare, we aren’t just risking the immediate livelihoods of families but the future of the nation itself.

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