As our economy recovers, we know that our child care infrastructure remains in crisis. We must invest in our care system with our children’s futures at stake. Accessible, affordable, quality child care allows families to work and offers babies the nurturing learning environment they need for healthy development. It helps build a future for our families, our economy and our nation.
The PBS NewsHour, one of the nation’s most trusted nightly news sources, has produced a series on child care in the United States entitled Raising Our Future: America’s Child Care Dilemma. The series ran in five segments over the course of the week of July 12, plus another segment on Oct. 12; all are available for viewing on the series web page.
The Oct. 12 special, hosted by PBS NewsHour’s chief correspondent, Amna Nawaz, examined how the lack of affordable, quality child care is affecting American families. In this hour-long special, the PBS NewsHour revealed how shifting societal values, as well as decades of federal policy, have shaped the U.S. child care system into what it is today. It explored the burden costly child care places on low-and middle-income families, took viewers to cities and states including Nebraska that are experimenting with new ways of providing child care for working parents, and delved into the political battle brewing over the idea of federally funded, universal child care.
As part of the series, NewsHour visited the Nebraska communities of McCook and Shickley and also stopped at the Buffett Institute. This was featured on Wednesday, July 14.
Here are summaries of each segment in the five-part July series:
• Segment 1 (Oregon): The first “scene setter” segment of the series examines America’s dramatically changed child care landscape as the country emerges from the pandemic and what’s at stake in this critical moment. Weaving together interviews with national experts and compelling personal stories from families and providers in Oregon, the report goes beyond the headlines to reveal long-standing inequities and problems with America’s patchwork child care system. The report also looks back at historical touchpoints that have impacted public policy and investment in early care and education for decades.
• Segment 2 (Mississippi): The NewsHour team travels on to Mississippi, where the lack of affordable, quality child care has long been a significant hurdle for working families, especially low-income single mothers. Using the story of one mother who has experienced significant child care challenges, the report looks at why government child care assistance has been difficult for parents to access in Mississippi and around the country. The reporters then visit an innovative program in Biloxi that has been transforming the lives of single mothers by providing job training and free, easy-to-access child care.
• Segment 3 (Nebraska): In the absence of a universal child care system, some communities around the country have been trying to figure out how to address child care shortages that are impacting local economies. In this segment, the NewsHour team visits the community of Shickley, where residents took action and created one of the country’s few infant and toddler programs owned and operated by a public school district. The team then travels to McCook, where community and business leaders have developed financial incentives to increase the number of child care slots. The team also visits the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska.
• Segment 4 (Fort Belvoir, Virginia): As Congress contemplates a major new role for the federal government in child care, some experts say they should look to the military child care system, which has been called a “model for the nation.” In this report, the NewsHour team visits Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where service members can access affordable, quality child care and providers earn fair wages and benefits. And, in one of the more compelling moments in the series, the head of child care policy for the military reveals her family’s own struggles with child care.
• Segment 5 (around the country): In the final report of the series, the NewsHour team looks at the key question confronting the country and political leaders: What now? Should the country move toward long-term child care reform? Hearing from average Americans and national thought leaders, the report explores some of the policies now being considered and brings to light some of the many views about how we might move forward.