Nearly 40% of Florida’s working families live in a child care desert according to a new report by the Center for American Progress. Rural and Hispanic families face the greatest challenges in both the state and nationwide.
“Improving access to consistent and affordable high-quality early care and education accomplishes two important objectives: It promotes healthy child development, and it allows parents to work or to re-enter the labor force after taking leave,” notes the report.
The report found labor force participation rates for mothers with young children are roughly 3 percentage points lower than the participation rates in neighborhoods with adequate child care supply.
America’s Child Care Deserts in 2018 advocates federal and state policymakers take steps to address child care deserts and expand access to affordable, quality child care by improving data collection, increasing public investments in child care and early education, raising child care payment rates, and making child care infrastructure investments in all child care settings.
The report defines a child care desert based on the ratio of children to licensed child care slots. When the number of licensed child care slots is insufficient to reach at least one-third of young children under age 5, the likelihood that parents face difficulty finding child care increases, according to the report. The analysis does not include care provided by family, friends or neighbors.
The online resource includes interactive maps for each state and county.