Traditionally local government economic development policy has focused on attracting new business through incentives and subsidies. However new economic development approaches emphasize investment in the social infrastructure necessary to support a vibrant, creative, entrepreneurial economy. Many states are looking at the importance of infrastructural supports such as child care on regional economic well being. At the city and neighborhood level governments are exploring new public private partnerships to increase investment in downtown business districts (Business Improvement Districts). Often initiated by non-profit associations or community development corporations, these innovative approaches have come to scale and now attract support from the majority of local governments.
The early childhood care and education field is at an exciting moment. Across the US, there is increasing recognition of the economic importance of child care. Early care and education is being recognized as an important economic sector in its own right, and as a critical piece of social infrastructure that supports children's development and facilitates parents' employment. The Linking Economic Development and Child Care Research Project aims to better identify the economic linkages of child care from a regional economy perspective. It supports states and localities interested in using an economic development framework to build coalitions with the economic development community, business interests and policy makers to help craft new approaches to child care finance.
The economic crisis provides the time to prepare employers to create child care options, robust work/life policies, and creative approaches to "balance" work responsibilities and the changing personal and family commitments of employees.