Throughout the pandemic, stressed-out families struggled to find reliable childcare as many providers shut down abruptly due to COVID exposures. This forced many parents and caretakers to take unplanned leave, attempt to work and care for children simultaneously, or to leave the workforce altogether. Research estimates that as many as 40% of parents have had job decisions significantly affected by childcare issues, while gaps in care result in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic productivity in each state, each year. While some locations have been able to navigate the shortage of childcare workers, others have not. Researchers ranked metros and states by the number of children per childcare worker.

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