Two weeks ago, we shared part I of this two-part series and described the findings of our study. We looked back at three overarching findings from the first year of the RAPID-EC national survey, which includes 10,707 families across all 50 states of the United States. The three findings focused on material hardships, racial inequalities, and households with children with disabilities. Our hope is that the data could be useful conversation starters for policymakers, academia, and partners in Latin America and the Caribbean.
If you have not read part I, you can do it here. In this post, we look to the future of the study and explain how it can inform policymakers and the general public moving forward.
Longstanding challenges that need immediate attention
Although the RAPID-EC survey was born out of the need to hear the voices of American families with young children during the pandemic, the storylines in our data are rooted in longstanding challenges that families with young children faced prior to the pandemic. The pandemic did not cause these issues to arise, but rather has pressurized and thrown them into relief in a way that commands the attention of the general public and its policymakers. As we look ahead to the second year of the survey and beyond, our team is focused on extending the survey in three ways:
1. Focus on key issues related to early childhood policy and programs:
- Financial stability and relief from material hardship
- Access to integrated child and family services to promote health, behavioral health, housing, education
- Adequate emotional support from both formal (e.g., child care, home visitation) and informal (family, friends, and other community members) sources
- Time to focus on health and wellbeing, including paid sick leave and personal time, paid vacation time, and maternity/paternity leave
2. A new recurring survey of child care providers (RAPID-CC):
It has become apparent in our RAPID-EC survey data and in information from other sources that the recovery from the pandemic, and more generally the wellbeing of young children and families in the US, is inextricably tied to child care. Families need child care so that they can return to work, and this care needs to be high-quality, safe, and flexible; and, employers need child care so that their employees can return to work.
In March of 2021, we launched the first in what will be recurring bi-monthly RAPID-CC surveys of child care providers, which will parallel our RAPID-EC surveys.
3. Local and other targeted surveys.
Although many of the policy decisions that will impact households with young children will be made at the federal level, the implementation of these policies (and related systems and programmatic-level changes) will occur at state, county, and community levels. As such, we are planning to initiate partnerships that will allow for surveys to be carried out in local contexts with representative participation from specific communities.
As we enter the second year of the pandemic, we recognize the power of hearing from parents of young children and child care providers. They have faced circumstances that few anticipated and have made the wellbeing of children their top priority, often risking their own health in doing so. As we continue our work, our goal remains the same: elevate their voices and celebrate their efforts.
Although families in the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean during the pandemic may have had completely different experiences, we hope that our work inspires informed conversations between policymakers, academia, and the general public in the region. Cultures and countries are different, but this unprecedented pandemic highlighted long-standing issues—such as persistent inequalities—that need to be solved everywhere. What have your household or your community struggled with during the pandemic? We want to know about your experience as a parent and/or childcare provider. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Article originally published on the RAPID-EC website. Access the original version here.
At the Inter-American Development Bank, we work to improve lives in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our vision for 2025 is to drive growth opportunities for all in a sustainable way. Find more information in this video.