Supports for Working Families

Supports for Working Families

Improving support for America’s working families with young children has risen to the forefront of the national conversation. The majority of parents are in the labor force, but workplace and government policies haven’t caught up. The science on early childhood development has evolved in recent years, revealing the importance of high-quality care inside and outside the home, yet the share of the federal budget we spend on children is relatively small and shrinking.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 broke open an already fractured care economy. The pandemic spurred historic federal relief packages directed to families with children and childcare providers, including monthly Child Tax Credit payments and a federal paid leave program; these programs are now expired.

Supplement

Read the Press Release

As we emerge from the pandemic, there has been a significant labor shortage (particularly acute in the childcare sector), working parents reconsidering their employment and care priorities, and inflationary pressures, all of which are adding to the squeeze on families. Finding ways to better support families has risen in salience among the general public alongside greater interest from policymakers, private sector, and philanthropic leaders.

In an attempt to alleviate pressure, we have seen historic efforts by states and localities to fill gaps and innovate, such as creating new departments dedicated to early childhood or experimenting with three-stream funding (state, employer, and employee) for childcare costs. Additionally, innovations are being led by civil society and, in some cases, by employers aiming to support and retain workers, especially those with young kids.

Supplement

Supports for Working Families Framing Paper

This brings us to the critical moment we find ourselves in today.

We have a significant opportunity for political, business, and nonprofit leaders across the ideological spectrum to step back and thoughtfully reassess what types of long-term investments and policies are best for working families and what success would look like to make it easier to raise children while working in America. Now is the time to look at how we, as a nation, can create realistic choices for families around quality childcare options, or make it easier and affordable for a new parent to take a break from the workforce while children are young.

There is incredible power to relational capital and bringing different perspectives to the table to discuss seemingly intractable issues through the Convergence process. There is real work to do to build alignment and consensus but there exists significantly more overlap and shared principles to be uncovered if the right space is held for the group to engage. A well-conceived table consisting of cross-partisan, cross-sectoral individuals can contribute both through specific recommendations and strategies as well as through impacts to the public debate by lifting up inclusive framing that moves away from well-grooved talking points to centering around families’ needs.

The Assessment on Supports for Working Families is the first phase of a multi-year project seeking to build actionable solutions and unlikely alliances so that American families can flourish. We hope to accomplish these goals and move forward toward building consensus around solutions to intractable issues in the Dialogue phase.

For more information about the project, please contact:

Mariah Levison, Chief Program Officer
mariah@convergencepolicy.org

To invest in this project, please contact:

Anjali Singh Code, Chief Development Officer
anjali@convergencepolicy.org