Child Care Cuts Would Affect Us All

Jun 17, 2011

By Hannah Matthews

This post originally appeared June 17 on

This morning, like millions of other parents across the country, I dropped my daughter off at child care on my way to work. In choosing a licensed child care provider to care for her, I made certain assumptions about the standards that provider would be required to meet. And, probably like many other parents, I take for granted that the government plays a role in helping to ensure my daughter's health and safety.

In the policy arena, we often refer to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) as the program that funds state child care assistance programs that help low-income families afford child care while they are working, looking for work, or in training or education programs. However, CCDBG plays a role in the lives of all families using child care, not just those who are low-income. CCDBG includes a requirement that states spend up to 4 percent of funds on initiatives to improve the quality of care. In 2009, the latest year data are available, states set aside more than $661 million for this purpose.

These quality funds reach child care settings that serve children across income levels and are the sole source of federal funding dedicated to improving the quality of child care in this country. States spend at least half of these funds on basic health and safety for child care. Most states use CCDBG to fund at least a portion of their regulatory systems, including child care licensing and monitoring. CCDBG also provides funding for inspectors to visit child care programs to ensure that providers are following established health and safety standards. It provides funds for training for child care providers on child development. And it funds consumer education initiatives to relay information about quality child care to parents so they can make informed choices when choosing care. 

Currently, the talk in Washington is about deficit reduction, balanced budgets, and spending cuts. Many of the proposed solutions for dealing with the large deficit include stripping funding for poor and low-income families. Programs for the poor are targeted for cuts because their beneficiaries lack political clout. But the level of cuts that have been proposed-cuts in the trillions-cannot be achieved without cutting programs that affect all Americans-not just the poor, not just the marginalized, and not just the most vulnerable.


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