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Women of color child care providers face the heaviest burden, report finds

The pandemic may have worsened equity issues in the child care sector. That’s one of the takeaways in a new report, “Equity in Child Care is Everyone’s Business,” released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and The Education Trust.

The report notes that 94% of child care workers are female, and 40% are people of color. It examines how these child care workers are heavily impacted by racial inequalities and sexism — including pointing out inequities exacerbated by the pandemic. Black child care providers earn an average of 78 cents less per hour than their white counterparts, for instance, even when controlling for education level.

“While the pandemic and economic downturn have had repercussions for everyone in child care, they have hit female child care providers of color especially hard,” said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “This report helps put a human face on the troubling data we’re seeing within the child care industry — and illuminates the opportunities for state and local chambers to help ensure that these often-overlooked businesses not only survive but thrive.”

One key finding in the report is that the stress and strain of the pandemic are pushing providers to leave the workforce. Providers described significant physical and mental strain from working during the pandemic—some of it caused by racism and sexism, isolation from social connections and an overall lack of emotional support.