Parents say the free day care ‘changed my life,’ allowing workers at low-wage jobs to balance household budgets and start saving. Click here to read how several locally-funded child care programs are positively impacting families in New Orleans, Louisiana, Whatcom County, Washington, and Dallas, Texas.

The recent local initiatives are focused on younger children–infants and toddlers–more than ever before, said Diane Girouard, a senior state policy analyst with Child Care Aware, a nonprofit research and advocacy group. One reason: People saw the economic impact of a lack of child care during the pandemic, said Olivia Allen, a co-founder of the nonprofit Children’s Funding Project. “The value of child care and other parts of the care economy became abundantly clear to a lot of business leaders in a painful way,” Allen said.