Why Early Childhood Care and Education is Essential to Economic Development: Supporting 14 licensed family child care home in the San Luis Valley

As an industry, early childhood care and education has historically been underfunded and underappreciated. In times of COVID-19, we have seen a huge impact on the early childhood care and education ecosystem. We have also finally begun to see a more overarching understanding of how important access to early childhood care and education is as an economic development issue. In our rural areas, there was already a lack of access to early care and education, with nowhere near enough capacity to deal with the demand. We cannot afford to lose our existing early childhood service providers from the COVID-19 pandemic – for both the education and wellbeing of our children, and for our rural economies to survive.

First Southwest Community Fund values the importance of early childhood care and education, and how these providers sustain and impact the economic development of the communities where we work. While there are numerous types of early childhood care and education providers, we learned through a survey of local providers that the sub-section which has been most dramatically affected are licensed family child care homes. These providers – which are primarily run by women – have been described as “the backbone of our rural communities,” yet the majority of them were not eligible or able to apply for help through PPP or EIDL.

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