Innovations on Reporting in Childcare and What it Means for Parents


According to a recent NPR survey covered by Forbes Magazine, about a third of families with young kids struggle to find high-quality, accessible childcare. We know this, thanks to the hard work of dedicated childcare journalists.

Those in Childcare Reporting Have Their Work Cut Out for Them

Childcare reporters use their best efforts to keep the public informed of the important issues surrounding the care and education of young children. They cover policy and legislative issues, research and statistics on the benefits and challenges of childcare, and stories about great childcare providers and their services.

And above all, childcare reporting help hold those responsible for providing such care accountable for their actions – no small feat. Shining light to bring clarity about complex childcare policies is a tall task for reporters, and it’s never been more crucial than now for this information to be shared with the public.

Unfortunately, as newsrooms across the nation continue to shrink, the weight of reporting on complex policies falls to a fewer number of experienced journalists and editors. And not only are their fewer beat reporters, editors and newsroom staff, but they must also keep up with fast-paced digital news demands.

This reality threatens to leave critical issues like childcare overlooked and underreported. Even worse, this trend will likely continue, with predictions of a loss of one-third of U.S. newspapers by 2025, as noted in the New York Times.

Reporting on childcare can be formidable work for those reporters undertaking it. We’ve mapped out four key points to help guide you through. Whether it’s a regular beat or a one-time story, these insights will make your coverage more insightful and engaging.

1- All eyes on the states

As the federal government struggles to make tangible progress on childcare policy, states are stepping up to fill the void. With growing political will and increasing public interest, states are becoming the public policy laboratory for innovation in the childcare sector. The policies and programs implemented in individual states will serve not only as models for other states to follow but will also shape and inform the national debate on childcare.

Two states to keep a close eye on in this area are New Mexico and Vermont. Both states are pushing for universal childcare, which would make high-quality, affordable childcare available to all families, regardless of their incomes. New Mexico’s recent initiative has introduced the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD), which aims to provide comprehensive care to young children. Similarly, Vermont’s Childcare Financial Assistance program, which offers financial assistance to low-income families, has been praised for its effectiveness.

Another state worth watching is California, which is at the forefront of the movement to unionize childcare providers to increase their pay and enhance working conditions. The state’s unionization efforts have sparked a national conversation about the importance of valuing and investing in the workforce that cares for our children.

Paid family leave is another example of a significant policy shift that began at the state level. Twenty years ago, California’s single-state effort to offer paid family leave was a radical move, which has since laid the foundation for 11 other states and D.C. to adopt similar policies. Similarly, California’s current efforts in childcare may also inspire and eventually move forward on a national scale.

2- Keep an eye on private sector investors

The private sector is putting money into childcare, particularly into tech-based and online services. An entrepreneurial start-up like Wonderschool is an example of a platform-based company that helps childcare programs maximize enrollment and streamline administrative responsibilities, while also connecting families to much needed childcare services.

It’s important to note, however, that these innovations, while helpful and efficient, cannot single-handedly solve the childcare industry’s financial challenges – especially considering the government’s limited funding for early childhood education. Understanding the limitations of private-sector solutions is crucial and would be something that parents might want to know.

3- Segmentation of the childcare industry matters

Reporting on and writing about childcare can be complex. It’s essential to understand the different types of childcare available and why the distinctions matter. The key distinctions are between licensed care, such as childcare centers and some home-based providers, and unlicensed care, like informal arrangements with family and friends. These different types of care are subsidized at different rates and can also serve diverse families.

Consider why a family might choose an unlicensed daycare over a licensed one. Lower cost, flexibility, diversity, and identity are few of the reasons. And yet, still there’s a structural bias in favor of center-based childcare, as reflected in government payment subsidies and quality metrics.

Home-based providers receive fewer subsidy dollars in many states than center-based providers, despite providing the same services. However, they often offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling, which may be a better fit for families with non-traditional schedules or irregular hours, whose workers are disproportionately people of color.

4- Focus on the inadequacies of a diverse child population in the current childcare system

As America becomes increasingly racially diverse, so does its child population. But, a diverse child population also includes diversity in language, culture, learning abilities, disabilities and special needs. It’s clear that the current childcare system needs help in keeping up with the differing needs of different children. Data suggests that marginalized families are impacted most, as they cannot fully benefit from existing childcare supports and that childcare providers are not equipped to meet their particular needs.

Childcare is a societal, not an individual, issue. It requires solutions that address the needs of a diverse population, as well as sustainable financial support. History from around the globe, has shown us that it does “take a village” to raise a child, and that quality childcare is a public good that benefits us all.


Childcare is a vital issue for families and society, but its complexities make it a challenging topic on which to report. Despite this, dedicated journalists do continue to provide informative coverage of policies (and their impact), research and on individual providers. However, the decline of newsrooms threatens to leave these critical issues under-reported. By focusing on key trends such as state policies, private sector investments and technology developments, journalists can provide engaging and insightful coverage that holds providers accountable, as well as informs the public.

About the Author

Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.


About Author

Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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