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“Child care is having an unprecedented moment in the United States,” says Professor of the Practice in Public Policy and Economic Justice Kim Lucas. “Across policymakers, the child-care sector, and stakeholders from multiple employment sectors, there is a recognition that the present child-care ‘system’ is built on the shaky ground of the collective and yet fragmented efforts of nonprofits and individuals. [And] there is a growing appetite to use a wider range of public-policy tools to address the multitude of issues in the child-care sector.”

In research they published on July 2023 via the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Dr. Lucas conducted interviews with multiple local, state, and national leaders and innovators at the intersection of child care and labor. They identified the challenges—and the possibilities—for providing retirement benefits to early educators, given the fragmented child-care “system.”

“Early educators’ jobs must be one of the first that we shore up in order to ensure a solid foundation for other work to stand on,” says Dr. Lucas. “Right now, we need solutions that improve labor-force participation—both among families (specifically women) and within the child-care sector itself. We have the opportunity to reimagine the way we do work such that we might value the people and the work that we may have undervalued or underrecognized.”

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