My interest in child care started early, when I took care of infants in a child care center and did home visits with low-income Latino families in Austin, Texas. Those experiences allowed me to see firsthand the often heartbreaking challenges and trade-offs that low-income families face in trying to provide their children with a strong start. Subsequently, my passion has been to make our child care and early childhood systems work better for these families. I work to bring the complexities of real people’s lives to the policy debate and to translate them into pragmatic policy solutions that make sense for families as well as for the policymakers, practitioners, and service providers working on their behalf.
Gina Adams, a senior fellow in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute, is a national expert on factors that shape the affordability, quality, and supply of child care/early education services, and the ability of low-income families to benefit from them. Since the mid-1980s, she has worked on a range of child care and early education programs, including child care subsidies, Head Start/Early Head Start, state prekindergarten, two-generation models, and quality initiatives. She led seminal research on how families, providers, and agency staff experience the subsidy system that supported state and federal efforts to create subsidy systems that are family-friendly and fair to providers.
Adams codirects Urban’s Kids in Context initiative. Her current research interests include working across program silos to address challenges that instability and insecurity create for children’s healthy development, helping states simplify their child care systems to align them with SNAP or Medicaid, examining the intersection between child care and workforce development strategies, exploring factors that affect whether children of immigrants participate in state prekindergarten programs, examining absenteeism in early childhood programs, and assessing two-generational models. She has led major multistate or multisite qualitative studies and mixed-method studies. She also has extensive experience in public speaking, technical assistance, and publishing for a wide-ranging audience.
Before joining Urban in 1999, Adams directed child care research at the Children’s Defense Fund and worked as a child care teacher for infants and as a home visitor for low-income Latino families.