There is no doubt early learning and access to quality child care play a critical role in the wellbeing and prosperity of LA County families and communities.

It’s something that we, two leaders in the early childhood advocacy and business field, care about deeply.

Investments in early childhood and family strengthening supports are particularly pertinent to regions like the Antelope Valley, whose rapid economic and population growth depend on equity-minded planning and investments.

Strong child care and early learning systems increase productivity by allowing parents to work. Nationwide during the pandemic, working parents have experienced increased financial, care giving, and health pressures.

In some scenarios, these pressures have decreased productivity, in others, it has pushed some employees out of the workforce. Sobering statistics like women losing nearly three million jobs nationwide, compared to 1.8 million jobs lost by men will impact our economy and society for years to come.

The child care industry was hit hard during the pandemic, with more than 5,000 family child care homes and 9,000 child care centers closing, but inequities in the system predisposed it to nearly collapsing.

A 2019 ReadyNation report, highlights that for each year a child is under age three without sufficient child care, families lose an average of $3,350 per working parent, in lost earnings and more time looking for work.

On the employer side, businesses lose an average of $1,150 per working parent in reduced revenue and extra hiring costs.

Along with these direct losses by employees and employers, taxpayers miss out on an average of $630 per working parent in lower income and sales tax revenue.

Promoting investments in a strong early learning and child care system also paves the path for economic success. Engaging children in quality care, as early as infancy, sets them up for academic success in school, and later success in the workforce.

In adulthood, positive early learning experiences translate to more credentialed workers equipped with the hard computation skills and the soft critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration skills they need to succeed and drive the economy.

A strong early learning and child care system also has the promise of addressing inequities through closing educational achievement gaps.

A long-term study found that participation in high quality preschool had positive effects on low-income Black and Latino students, including language arts and literacy, math, and science.

In a time when many aim for equity, investments in early learning opportunities provide a viable way to make strides.

One example of a quality early learning program in our region that has adapted during the pandemic to meet the needs of parents, is Preschool Without Walls.

Here, trained volunteer parents teach young children alongside their parents in familiar settings. During the school closures, parent leaders like Wendy Trujillo, led an expansion of Preschool Without Walls into Terra Nova Mobile Home Park.

Equipped with the support of First 5 LA, Children’s Bureau, SBCC/Thrive LA, Wendy connected with other parents struggling with their new role as educators in turn mitigating the effects of learning loss for their children.

We encourage state legislators to invest in building a strong early childhood education system that supports families with comprehensive care, promotes equity in the field with proper compensation of educators, and constructs a financial infrastructure that is resilient over time.

Given our federal investments and Governor Newsom’s newly revised budget, now is the time to enact these proposals for early learning and child care, to establish a durable set of support systems for our nation’s youngest generation and to ensure a more inclusive and prepared future workforce that will keep the California booming and competitive for years to come.

Sylvia Duarte, is president and CEO of the Antelope Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is a ReadyNation member.

Roxana Martinez is with the First 5 LA Program Officer in the Antelope Valley.

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