Child Care Assistance: An Essential Work Support Program for Families
Jul 24, 2014
Quality child care enables parents to work or go to school while also providing young children with the early childhood education experiences needed for healthy development. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal program that provides funding for child care assistance for low-income working parents. Child care assistance is a vital public investment that increases the sustainability of employment for low-income parents and provides stability for parents struggling to gain economic security. It also allows many parents to access higher-quality care than they could otherwise afford.
In spite of several years of post-recession economic recovery, the percentage of Americans living in poverty remains high. The majority of parents with young children work. More than 30 percent of poor children and half of low-income children – living in families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level –lived in families with at least one worker employed full-time, year-round.
For parents working in low-wage jobs, paying the high costs of child care is a struggle. The average annual costs of center-based care for a 4-year-old ranges from $4,312 in Mississippi to $12,355 in New York. Nationwide, families living below poverty who pay for child care spend approximately 30 percent of their income, which is significantly higher when compared to families not in poverty who pay 8 percent of their income.
A new CLASP brief highlights why child care assistance is an essential work support program for low-income working families and provides evidence that these subsidies are associated with sustainable employment for parents and improved child outcomes. It makes the case for why additional investments at the federal and state level are critical.