Increasing access to high-quality early childhood education and care benefits children, their parents, and the economy. CentroNía advocates for affordable early childhood services for all families regardless of income, language, racial or ethnic background.

Over 90% of the families of children enrolled at CentroNía over the 2020-2021 school year had incomes below the federal poverty line, and 77% of enrolled children were dual-language learners, the majority of who came from families identifying as Latino and Black or Biracial/Multiracial.

Equity Starts in Early Childhood

Research shows that investment in early childhood pays off over a lifetime: children who attend high-quality programs perform better on tests, stay in school longer, experience lower rates of depression, have better physical health, and earn more in adulthood. By providing children from low-income families culturally- and linguistically responsive supports and services, organizations like CentroNía can address school-readiness gaps based on race, income, and limited English proficiency which are already present by the time young children enter kindergarten.

Affordable childcare also generates positive effects on parental education, labor force participation, and household income, making it a powerful, cost-effective way to create an intergenerational cycle of opportunity for underserved communities. In fact, Nobel-prize-winning economist James Heckman found that every dollar invested pays off more than nine times over in benefits to society.

A Holistic Approach

Young children aged 0-5 receive over two-thirds of their total daily caloric requirements while attending early childhood education centers, making centers the primary source of necessary nutrients for many children during a critical stage of their development. CentroNía's Food & Wellness team advocates for improved access to healthy foods and nutrition education in centers and schools.

CentroNía has hosted many leaders interested in successful and holistic food and wellness programs in early childhood education, including former First Lady Michelle Obama, the Health Minister of Canada, the First Ladies from Chile and Estonia, and administrators from the Inter-American Development Bank and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other organizations. Recent speaking engagements include:

  • “Bridging the Gap: Schools and Early Care as Hub for Local Food Access During the COVID and Beyond”, Northeast Farm to Institution Summit Panel April 2021
  • “Addressing Food Security Through Community Based Initiatives”, ASPHN Grantees Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) Online Learning Session, March 2021
  • Educalimentaria, 1 Foro Internacional de Educación Alimentaria in Peru, November 2019
  • “Early Care and Education and School Procurement Meeting” (ECESP Meeting), Saint Louis Missouri - April 2018
  • National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, 'Local to ECE', Washington DC - March 2018

The Future of Early Childhood Education

In a national survey of registered voters, a majority of parents identified a critical lack of child care that is both accessible and affordable. Even before the pandemic forced centers to start closing their doors publicly funded childcare subsidies reached just 14% of eligible children nationwide. Unfortunately, even for those the subsidy reaches, the level of support is too low to cover costs. Indeed, the U.S. Treasury Department has found that scant private and public funding has failed to provide enough slots to meet families' needs, creates childcare deserts and undervalues childcare workers. In a system where even for-profit childcare providers average profits under 1%, centers often cannot even afford to maintain their facilities, leaving many of the physical structures that shelter children in poor repair.

Analysis by the Center for American Progress revealed that in each year from 2016 to 2018, more than 2 million parents of children age 5 and younger—9 percent, or nearly 1 in 10 parents—had to quit a job, not take a job, or greatly change their job because of child care problems. In fact, just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. economy was already losing a staggering $57 billion per year in revenue, wages, and productivity as a result of child care problems.

Childcare providers like CentroNía don't just get families back to work- we represent a crucial part of the American economy: one in every 110 U.S. workers - and one in every 55 working women - makes a living in early childhood education and care. However, the teachers and caregivers that make up the large early childhood workforce, many of whom are women of color, struggle with low pay and burnout. In the District of Columbia, 35% of childcare workers are below the poverty line. Low pay leads to high attrition with up to 26-40% of them leaving their job each year. This high turnover is wrenching not just for caregivers, but also for the young children they leave behind, as consistency and routines are integral for their wellbeing.

What Can You Do?

Together, we can deliver access, affordability and quality to solve America's longstanding childcare crisis.


Support CentroNía's early childhood education and family support services for low-income families in the greater DC metropolitan region and keep children on the path towards school-readiness.


Join the bipartisan push to increase federal investment in childcare and universal Pre-K. Underinvestment creates an unsustainable model that often translates into childcare deserts and near-poverty wages for educators.


Employers can address recruitment, absenteeism, high turnover, and productivity issues at the source by partnering with providers to offer onsite care or by providing the predictable scheduling, temporary backup care or emergency childcare reimbursement, and subsidies that working parents need to access reliable care.