Affordable Child Care

Cities have policy levers to increase the supply, quality and location of child care.

Benefits & Problems Addressed

Costs: Child care is a top household expense in many cities.  Increasing the supply helps hold down costs. 

Location: Policies can help distribute child care arrangements so supply matches demand. Cities can adopt policies on locating child care near homes, workplaces and transportation facilities to lessen time and costs of transporting children and responding to emergency pick-ups.

Economic Competitiveness:  As Millennials begin to form families, retaining talent increasingly will include child care.

Tips & Techniques

Planning & zoning for child care centers:  Include child care centers as a by-right use in churches, commercial and mixed-use buildings.  Work with developers on safe, flexible common areas that can integrate play areas. 

In-home child care: Review the number and types of centers, and whether existing policies on parking, pick-up and drop off and facilities restrain supply.  

Live-In child care: Accessory dwelling units can house live-in child care workers and increase supply.

Support workers: Focus on support for workers, not just families.  Consider permitting, transportation and wages.

FundingEconomic development tools, such as redevelopment (tax increment) funds, Enterprise Zone funds & Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), can be used to revitalize neighborhoods and encourage new child care businesses, which create jobs and revenue. 

Hot Buttons: As with any non-residential use, neighbors may raise concerns on operations, noise and parking. In many cities, there is tension surrounding the  amount of regulations & training needed.

Examples & Resources

The Importance of Ensuring Adequate Child Care in Planning Practice: American Planning Association