Visions for the Future of Child Care in the U.S

What will child care look like in the year 2030?

The formal child care system in the U.S is optimized for a very narrow set of family lifestyles, structures, and incomes. There are plenty of families, care providers, and mobilizers who are engineering adaptive ways to care for children and each other by challenging the logic of the current system and building equitable, inclusive, and joyful child care ecosystems.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation partnered with IDEO.org to start the Care Constellation—an initiative that funds and supports families, care providers, and mobilizers who are leading a quiet revolution in child care. We asked the winners of our open call to share their ideal vision for child care in 2030. This is what we heard back. We hope you're as inspired as we are. These visions will be evolving and growing over the next 12 months.

1. A World with Boundless Possibilities

"We envision a transformed early childhood education system across the St. Louis region where—regardless of race, income, or ZIP code—families can access affordable education and care for children ages 0-5, care they can trust to be joyful and high-quality. This system will create, for our children and communities, boundless possibilities. Our transformed early childhood education system will be driven by a set of shared values including: joyful celebration and support of the whole child, racial equity, meaningful family and community, partnership and power, sustainable funding towards transformational quality."
WEPOWER, Urban Sprouts Child Development Center, St Louis, MO


About the Team:
Our team includes leaders most proximate to racial inequities and braids expertise in key drivers of transformational systems change—from power-building and resident-led organizing to dynamic resource alignment.

2. A Community That is Built Around, Centers, and Honors Children and Elders

“In our vision, there is a collective remembering of a time when children and elders were our utmost priority. All of our institutions now center them. Neighborhood schools, peace and wellness centers, 24-hour daycares, homeschooling, summer programming, project-based learning are all norms and standards of care in neighborhoods and communities. In this vision, businesses and cooperative enterprises fund and finance this programming and there is little need for philanthropy because mothers, fathers, grands, aunties, uncs, cuzzos share time and energy as a form of mutual aid with child care collectives. In our vision, location and fees are not deterrents to access to care; children have multiple places where they are fed nutritious food, their minds and creativity are positively stimulated, and they know they are in a safe space. There are societies that have documented their indigenous education models that we have studied and will repeat.”
GoldenSeed Childcare Collective, Atlanta, GA


About the Team:
We are a community, a collective of families, a tribe of Black folks who found each other in Atlanta. We come from all walks of life, but have found ourselves aligned in valuing Black liberation, crafting kinship, tending to the earth, and centering the safety, care, and joy of Black children.

3. A Society Rooted in Transformative Justice

“With a guaranteed income, formerly-incarcerated, systems- and street-involved young parents can escape cycles of racism, poverty, gender-based violence, and exploitation. This allows them to take care of their own children or pay for care they trust. In school, their children learn about the history of survival and resilience of their ancestors and the ongoing work of justice and liberation. In turn, parents can return to school and find or be trained for meaningful and well-paid employment. In this vision, both children and families are coached and supported in practicing transformative justice to respond to harmful dynamics. Parents and guardians are not afraid to ask for support, because they know that the response will be loving and grounded in a commitment to family unity and strength and in a belief that parents want to do right for their children.”
Young Women’s Freedom Center (YWFC), Bay Area, CA


About the Team:
We are cis and transgender girls and women and gender-expansive people who are parents, survivors of violence, systems-involved, formerly incarcerated and/or have been involved in the street economy.

4. A System That Prioritizes Racial, Gender, and Disability Justice for All.

"Our vision is a targeted universal child care system rooted in racial, gender, and disability justice that works for all involved—parents, providers, and our kids. This new system is developed by and for the Black and Indigenous people, people of color, and the largely women providers and parents who know the most about child care. It supports wider economic growth and shared prosperity across the socioeconomic spectrum, because it is publicly funded through federal and state funds. In this vision, our child care workforce reflects the diversity of the communities it serves, by race, culture, and language."
Family Forward Oregon, Oregon


About the Team: Our staff team holds deep expertise in policy development, government relations, grassroots movement building, communications and digital strategies, and campaign and coalition management. Our organizers have lived experiences as women of color, low-income women, single mothers, and paid caregivers.

5. A World Where Black Boys Have An Equal Chance at Success

"The vision for the future is simple and straightforward. We hope to design enhancements to our current child care system that will clear a path for Black boys to succeed at the same rate as other children. This vision would directly impact the early childhood workforce and create a pipeline for Black men to find a place for themselves in early childhood.”
Collaboration for Early Childhood, Oak Park and River Forest, IL


About the Team:
We work to overcome the fragmentation and scarcity of services endemic to the early childhood field by leveraging and integrating all of our community resources to better meet the needs of the youngest children and their families. Our key initiatives include the advancement of high-quality preschool for all children, professional development for educators, family engagement, child health support and community engagement.

6. A System That Makes It Possible for All Children to Have Access to an Anti-racist, Liberatory Early Childhood Education.

"In 2030, all children and their families will have access to a transformative early childhood education (ECE) because we would have universal child care for ages birth to five. Because of this public funding, families can choose the care and early education support system that works best for them, regardless of where they live or their economic status. Child care centers will be culturally responsive because there will be a demand for diverse-by-design centers grounded in anti-racist and liberatory principles. The infrastructure that is necessary to accomplish this goal will be fully funded, which includes teacher training and development, funding for competitive salaries & benefits as well as ample funding for high-quality facilities. Finally, centers who serve neurodiverse children and children with disabilities will receive additional funding so that all children may learn alongside each other in the least restrictive environment."
RISE Child Development Center, Inc, Central Texas


About the Team:
We’re an anti-racist organization created to address inequity in early childhood education in Central Texas and throughout the United States. I created RISE to directly address the trends that I observed and experienced personally with early childhood education in Central Texas including the high cost of tuition, the low pay for the teachers and the lack of diversity in the centers. Moreover, as the mother of Black sons, I was saddened to see my children experience anti-Blackness at such a young age; even if the teachers were unaware of their actions. RISE was created to reimagine early childhood education to help address these problems.

7. A System Powered By Collaborative Care

Local "care cooperatives" pool care resources across the entire spectrum of community care needs (child care, eldercare, home care, and capacity building for people with disabilities, and public health professionals). By pooling resources, these cooperatives can ensure that care workers are well paid, protected, and adequately resourced while meeting the diverse range of care needs that exist in our communities. By combining diverse revenue streams (including standard fees as well public sector and philanthropic resources) the care cooperatives can provide direct support to care workers while helping families navigate their diverse care needs.

These care cooperatives, as local institutions designed with particular community needs in mind may find success in reconciling the cultural practices of their communities around caregiving with the concerns of the caregiving profession at large. In this cooperative model, care workers can organize and invest in macro-scale projects that address needs that cannot be addressed on a person-to-person level. This could result in a paradigm shift in caregiving for families with multiple and overlapping care needs (such as families in need of both child care and eldercare, families of neurodiverse children, families with disabled parents and/or disabled children).

Garrett Blaize, Wise, VA

About the Team:
I'm a 22-year-old community organizer and activist from rural Appalachia. My grandmother was my primary caretaker as a child and I currently work with her to provide for my two younger sisters both of whom have special care needs as well as my great-grandmother. Like many people in our community, we are providing care for two generations.

8. A Future Where the Voices and Ideas of Families, Caregivers, and Providers Are Treated With Dignity and Respect.

"Our vision for the future of child care in Colorado is that it will be reimagined by those who provide, seek, and use child care, and by those who face barriers to accessing the child care system in any capacity: all of Colorado’s families, caregivers, communities, and early care and education providers. Our vision is inclusive of Colorado’s ethnic, cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity, provider licensure status, and care setting. In this vision, families, caregivers, and providers receive any needed support to engage at the state and local level as co-creators of the reimagination effort. Community, provider, caregiver, and family needs will be at the center of short-term decision making, as Colorado shifts how early childhood operates statewide. Over the long-term, we plan to build significant grassroots political power for child care to ensure that families and caregivers are always treated as experts in what their children need and providers are treated with dignity and respect."

About the Team: Our staff team holds deep expertise in policy development, government relations, grassroots movement building, communications and digital strategies, and campaign and coalition management. Our organizers have lived experiences as women of color, low-income women, single mothers, and paid caregivers.

Colorado Children’s Campaign, Council for a Strong America, Institute for Racial Equity and Excellence, Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition, Family Resource Center Association, Clayton Early Learning, Black Child Development Institute Denver Affiliate, Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance, Engaged Latino Parents Advancing Student Outcomes (ELPASO), Bell Policy Center, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado