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Letter from the Editor: Spotlight on Early Learning: Infrastructure and Impact

Investments in quality early learning programs support working families and help promote childrens’ healthy development during a critical period. Perhaps surprisingly, a staggering 51 percent of Americans live in child care deserts, without access to licensed, quality, affordable child care. Lack of access to quality services negatively impacts child development, particularly for families with limited resources and those living in rural areas. Investing in the construction and renovation of child care facilities can help address program access obstacles and positively impact not only children and their families, but also teachers and the staff of such programs. These far-reaching benefits suggest CDFIs and other community development stakeholders should consider funding, developing, and investing in quality child care centers and employees as part of an overall community planning and development strategy. 

In this month’s Spotlight on Early Learning: Infrastructure and Impact, we’ve compiled resources and tools to help practitioners invest in early learning facilities, as well as research outlining the positive impact of this work on the early care and education workforce. Our hope is that these tools will empower practitioners to advocate for better policies and additional resources to support early learning facilities work, and to understand better the benefits these investments can have on a community. 

As part of the roundup, we’ve included data from the Center for American Progress highlighting the prevalence of child care deserts around the country. Readers will also find a framework outlining principles and policies needed for early learning facility investment from the Bipartisan Policy Center, and a manual to help practitioners understand the business side of these facilities. We also asked a Financial Opportunity Center in Rhode Island how they’re working to address workforce concerns in their facility.