The historic labor force gains US women have made in recent months are at risk of stalling or even reversing as a pandemic-era lifeline to daycare providers expires, with more than 70,000 child-care programs estimated to be in danger of closing.
The clock is set to run out at the end of September on $24 billion in government aid, hurting child-care providers already struggling with soaring costs and labor shortages. Some 3.2 million children could lose their spots, according to a recent estimate by the Century Foundation.
The centers that survive could resort to decreased staffing, reduced operating hours or higher tuition to plug the financial hole. That upheaval threatens to push parents — especially women — to work fewer hours, switch to less-demanding roles or leave the labor force entirely.