Childcare centers just lost thousands of federal dollars. Families and providers scramble to cope

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. razor-thin / ˈreɪ zər θɪn / (adj.) – (of an amount or difference) very small or thin

    The race was very close, with only a razor-thin gap between the two runners at the finish line.

  2. think tank / θɪŋk tæŋk / (n.) – a group or organization of people who come together to study specific topics or problems, often trying to give solutions and advice about them

    The environmental think tank provided new suggestions on how to address climate change.

  3. brittle / ˈbrɪt l / (adj.) – weak or easily damaged or destroyed

    The brittle trust between the two nations made negotiations more challenging.

  4. predominately / prɪˈdɒm.ɪ.nə / (adv.) – having the greater number or importance

    The international school is predominately composed of foreign kids who moved into the country.

  5. uphill / ˈʌpˈhɪl / (adj.) – difficult that it requires a huge amount of effort

    Fighting against climate change is an uphill struggle, requiring the support of all countries in the world.


Read the text below.

Last month was the first in two years that more than 200,000 childcare providers across the U.S. did not receive checks from the federal government—some for tens of thousands of dollars—as part of a pandemic-era program to help cover the cost of services.

The monthly payments, considered the largest investment in childcare in the U.S. history, ranged from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars and stabilized the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For years, providers had been raising alarm about an unsustainable business model that burdens families with high costs and leaves centers with razor-thin profit margins—issues only exacerbated by inflation and a significant workforce shortage.

Now, providers say that without additional investment, centers are facing the possibility of shutdown. The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C., analyzed a provider survey and government data and concluded that in six states—Arkansas, Montana, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.—up to half of all providers are threatened.

Many families and providers are calling on Congress to create a permanent funding solution to the crisis, warning of the ripple effects on the nation’s already brittle economy. A Democratic proposal failed in September without any Republican support. It would have continued the grants for five years with $16 billion allocated annually.

The most at-risk providers are those in rural communities that predominately serve low-income families.

At Living Water Child Care Center in Williamson, West Virginia, a $7,000 monthly subsidy went to purchasing a new curriculum and advancing employee certifications, according to Director Jackie Branch. The investment paid off: In April, the center moved up a tier in its state quality rating, increasing its monthly stabilization funding to $11,000.

The center serves three meals a day, plus snacks. They also distribute donations such as clothes and school supplies.

Branch said it will be an uphill battle to find other grants to make up for lost funds. 

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Thousands of childcare providers received checks from the federal government, especially during the pandemic to stabilize the industry. Do you think it’s reasonable that the providers will not be receiving any support this year? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Providers say that without additional financial support or investment, centers are facing the possibility of shutdown. Do you think that childcare is a worthwhile investment? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Many families and providers are calling on Congress to create a permanent funding solution to the childcare crisis. Why do you think it is important for governments to provide long-term or even permanent solutions to crises? Discuss.
  • What major crisis is your country facing right now (ex. economic crisis, healthcare crisis)? Are you satisfied with how the government is responding to it? Why or why not? Discuss.