Meeting the Early Learning Challenge: Better Child Care Subsidy Policies

Sep 19, 2011

By Hannah Matthews and Danielle Ewen

Today, CLASP released the first in a series, Meeting the Early Learning Challenge: Better Child Care Subsidy Policies, providing information and policy options for states planning their Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge applications.  

For more than two million low-income children at risk of school-failure, the child care subsidy system is key to accessing quality child care and early education settings. Without a subsidy, many low-income families are unable to afford even minimal quality child care-and they surely cannot afford settings that foster healthy development and early learning to close the achievement gap. Yet, access to a subsidy itself does not guarantee access to quality; state child care assistance policies vary and the availability of quality care for low-income children is uneven. 

To increase the number and percentage of low-income children, birth to five, enrolled in high-quality early education programs, states will need to undertake a critical assessment of their state child care assistance policies and make revisions that support access to high quality care and promote continuity so that children can stay in quality settings for longer periods. States have the flexibility to adopt child care policies that promote quality and that make it easier for working families to access quality settings. Given the high costs of child care that leave quality care out of reach for many low-income families, any efforts to move more low-income children into higher quality care should be done in tandem with efforts to strengthen child care assistance programs.

Read CLASP's recommended policies to improve access to quality in the Race to the Top -Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC).

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