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BRIEFApril 28, 2022

Invest in Childcare


Invest in Childcare

Driving more and better-quality investments in childcare to improve outcomes for women, children, families, businesses and economies.

Expanding access to quality, affordable childcare is among the most important investments that countries can make to build human capital, accelerate equality, and place women at the center of economic growth. Childcare has the potential to yield multi-generational impacts by improving women’s economic empowerment, child outcomes, family welfare, business productivity and overall economic growth. For women, access to childcare can enable mothers to participate in the labor market, increase hours, productivity and earnings and improve the quality of work. For children, quality childcare can provide the critical inputs needed during the early years to build the foundational skills that will help them succeed in school and throughout life.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, childcare is essential to support an inclusive recovery to enable parents to return to work, ensure the most vulnerable children have access to quality care, and as a source of job creation itself.

Investing in Childcare
Better Jobs and Brighter Futures: Investing in Childcare to Build Human Capital estimates that over 40 percent of children globally—or nearly 350 million—below primary-school-entry age need childcare but do not have access to it. The childcare challenge disproportionately impacts families in low and lower-middle-income countries: nearly 8 out of 10 children who need childcare but do not have access are in low- and lower-middle income countries. Even when childcare is available, there are other barriers including high costs, poor quality, inconvenient services and cultural norms against children being cared for outside the family. 

HC Childcare
Solutions are needed urgently. Governments need to ensure that childcare is available, affordable, of decent quality and meets the needs of all families. The World Bank Group is working with countries to develop a pipeline of investments in quality childcare that will transform the opportunities available to children, women and families. This effort will galvanize a whole-of-government approach and bring together a wide range of stakeholders including parents, communities, civil society, employers and childcare providers to address the childcare challenge. The World Bank Group has launched the Invest in Childcare, an ambitious cross-sectoral work program that brings together analytical and operational teams1 to strategically address the childcare challenge in countries, including through research, major new data collection, policy changes and new operational approaches that can work at scale.  

  • At the country level, our activities will focus on making the case for childcare and supporting countries to design and implement quality projects that can maximize the benefits for women and children (through catalytic country grants, match funding for projects, technical assistance to teams, and capacity building)
  • At the global level, analytical work and the development of tools and guidance will contribute to the global evidence base and global public goods as well as support country work (through in-country and cross-country data collection, impact evaluations that consider the holistic impacts of childcare and the development of various packages of tools)

This work program will support the delivery of the new IDA20 policy commitment on childcare (“to support at least 15 IDA countries to expand access to quality, affordable childcare, especially for low-income parents”).  

The initiative is supported by the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Echidna Giving; the Hewlett Foundation; and the LEGO Foundation. Combined, these pledges will catalyze at least $180 million in new funding to ensure quality, affordable childcare in available in low- and middle-income countries worldwide. We are also working closely with other multilaterals, civil society organizations and academia to ensure we build on the great work many organizations and partners have been leading in this space. We will be organizing regular consultations to share updates and gather feedback. 

Working together, we can help governments meet five key policy goals to ensure quality, affordable childcare is available for all families that need it and secure better jobs and brighter futures. 

Women employment

1Invest in Childcare is an initiative of the World Bank’s Early Learning Partnership (ELP) Trust Fund (ELP is associated to the Foundational Learning Compact  Trust Fund). The work will be coordinated by the World Bank’s Early Learning Partnership (ELP), working with a cross-sectoral working group of WBG staff, which will provide strategic direction and guidance. The working group includes members from Education, Gender, Social Projection and Jobs, Human Capital Project team, Health, Nutrition and Population, Poverty, Skills and Jobs and ECD Global Skills Groups, along with various research and survey units (Women Business and the Law, DEC, DIME, SIEF, Gender Innovation Labs, ECD Measurement) and IFC. In addition, various World Bank Group teams will lead on specific pieces of work.

Launch video for Better Jobs and Brighter Futures: Investing in Childcare to Build Human Capital