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After years of neglect, Arizona's child care system barely survived the pandemic

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Monday, November 8, 2021 - 12:54pm
Updated: Monday, November 8, 2021 - 1:11pm

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Since the Great Recession, the child care system in Arizona has largely been on oxygen.

State lawmakers slashed funding for child care for a decade, leading to rising costs for the families who needed care at the same time as operators couldn’t pay workers enough to keep them on staff.

Then COVID-19 hit. Schools shut down and child care centers around the state were nearly decimated. Now, Maria Polletta says even a $1.2 billion infusion by the federal government isn’t enough to turn things around.

Polletta is an investigative education reporter for the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, and she spent months digging into the state’s child care system. The Show spoke with her more about what she found, beginning with the shortfalls present before the pandemic.

Maria Polletta
Katie Campbell/KJZZ
Maria Polletta in KJZZ's studio in 2019.

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