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The pandemic highlighted the important role early care and education (ECE) plays in the economy. Without access to reliable childcare, many parents (particularly mothers) left the workforce during the pandemic—and a substantial proportion of these parents have yet to return. ECE is key to parental employment and also aligns with the Federal Reserve’s maximum employment mandate. Research from the Minneapolis Fed shows that children (particularly those from disadvantaged environments) benefit from attending high-quality ECE programs.

This session will include insights from research on the cost of providing high-quality ECE, the challenges LMI families face in paying for it and racial and ethnic equity for families and ECE providers. Findings from focus group discussions with parents of young children and ECE providers will also be discussed.


  • Sam Evans, community development advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
  • Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, vice president of national policy, Start Early
  • Marika Hamilton, mother and parent focus group facilitator
  • Dianne Haulcy, senior vice president of family engagement, Think Small
  • Suzie Lalich, Senior Director of Employee Success, PrintingForLess.com
  • Katherine Townsend, research analyst, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
  • Matuschka Lindo Briggs, director of special projects and strategic support, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (moderator)