Jan 11, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

Dwindling Support for Working Families’ Child Care Needs

By Hannah Matthews

Today, CLASP released new fact sheets underscoring the need for increased investment in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). These resources, which also demonstrate CCDBG’s overwhelming benefits, come at a critical moment when federal policymakers must begin to make good on their campaign promises to support working families.

For several years, CLASP has documented the slow decline in the number of children served by CCDBG, the primary source of federal funds for child care assistance. Our first fact sheet shows CCDBG Participation Drops to a Historic Low, that CCDBG is again reaching the smallest number of children in its history, according to newly released administrative data from 2015. Fewer than 1.4 million children received CCDBG-funded child care in an average month—21 percent fewer children than did so in 2006 due to declining federal and state investments. Across the country, more than 85 percent of children who qualify for help cannot access the program.

Our second fact sheet, Fewer Children, Fewer Providers, documents a related issue about the declining reach of CCDBG-funded care; since 2006, the number of child care providers receiving CCDBG payments has declined by 52 percentCCDBG funds may be used to support a wide range of child care providers, including those in center-based and home-based settings, along with providers who are licensed and those exempt from regulation in their state. Administrative data show fewer providers of every type are receiving CCDBG support, with the steepest declines seen among home-based providers—regardless of their licensed status—and license-exempt providers overall.

Increasingly, children receiving care through CCDBG funds are more likely to be in licensed settings (87 percent) and in centers (73 percent). From 2006 to 2015, there was a 70 percent decline in the number of children cared for in license-exempt settings, including providers who are relatives and non-relatives.  

There are many questions about who is being served in CCDBG that the administrative data cannot answer. But the subsidy system is clearly providing less access to license-exempt settings. Given the increase in non-standard work hours and volatile scheduling that overwhelmingly impact low-income workers, the data suggest that many families—those who rely on informal care and home-based care to meet their child care needs—are being left behind. Children in these families also need access to quality settings, while their parents need affordable child care options.

Over the past several months, we’ve engaged in a national dialogue about child care affordability (in part due to the presidential election). However, these discussions have not gone far enough. Despite making important improvements to CCDBG in its 2014 reauthorization, Congress has overseen a dramatic decline in child care availability. It’s time to recognize that enacting real bipartisan reform requires that we address the program’s declining reach and distressingly low payment rates as well as state discretionary policies that limit access to child care assistance.  

In order to seize opportunities from CCDBG’s reauthorization, states need significant new resources to strengthen CCDBG, improve continuity for children and families, and support providers in achieving new health and safety requirements. Unfortunately, the emerging policy agenda of our new Congress and president would devastate many low-income families. Congress must make good on its promises to expand opportunity, starting with investing in CCDBG to help hard-working families’ access high-quality care. Now more than ever, children and parents need assistance.

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Oct 26, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

Study Finds Implicit Racial Bias in Preschool Teachers

By Anitha Mohan

According to new research from the Yale Child Study Center, many early childhood programs demonstrate implicit bias in assessing children’s behavioral challenges and making decisions about suspension and expulsion.

 The study asked early childhood teachers and administrators to watch two videos—one featuring a Black boy and girl, the other a White boy and girl—and identify challenging behavior. It found that teachers spent a disproportionate amount of time watching the Black boy. When explicitly asked which student required the most attention, 42 percent of participants said the Black boy, 34 percent the White boy, 13 percent the White girl, and 10 percent the Black girl.

The study tracks closely with recent data from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Office for Civil Rights. According to ED’s 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), Black children comprise just 19 percent of those enrolled in public school pre-kindergarten but 47 percent of preschool children who receive one or more suspensions. Black boys are also more likely to be expelled than their peers. In addition to implicit bias, these children experience higher stress levels and less access to high-quality early education.

The body of evidence showing racial disparities in accessing and succeeding in early childhood programs demonstrates a strong need to review and modify federal, state, and local policies. We need to create a level playing field where all kids can access quality programs and receive equal treatment—supporting their success now and in the future. If we fail to address racial disparities, we’ll be undermining healthy development for millions of our youngest children. 

Oct 11, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

A Broad Base is Speaking Up for Child Care

By Christine Johnson-Staub

As a testament to the critical role that child care plays in supporting today’s working families, a diverse array of voices is undertaking an important national conversation on the affordability and accessibility of quality child care. Parents, child care providers, labor union representatives, economic justice advocates, community organizers, early childhood advocates, and other allies are prioritizing the need for high-quality, affordable child care for families, and the importance of quality jobs for caregivers. Conversations over just the past month across the country have offered the opportunity for individuals to share their experiences and perspectives, and for stakeholders to come together to share strategies and identify common priorities.  

  • In Lansing at a recent convening organized by Michigan United – with national partners Caring Across Generations, CLASP, Demos, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Women’s Law Center, and People’s Action – parents from across Michigan talked about the importance of state investment in child care and early education and of making changes to simplify and reform state policies. They cited the complexity of the application process and rigidity of eligibility rules that—as one parent described—result in a mother being turned down for child care assistance because her modest income was $20 too high.
  • In New York, the same group of national partners, working with Citizen Action of New York and other state leaders, convened a group of diverse stakeholders to talk about strategies for strengthening revenue, funding, access, and support for child care workers under the state’s current budgetary and policy constraints. Allison Julien, a caregiver and NDWA member spoke of the stress child care workers face as they raise their own children and simultaneously work ten to twelve-hour days in stressful jobs caring for others’ children. Melissa Reed, a family child care provider, shared that the hardest part of her job is paperwork, and the second hardest part is the paycheck saying, “If you want quality, pay us quality wages.”
  • And in Washington, D.C., CLASP was pleased to participate in the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) National Assembly, where a group of parents, in-home caregivers, and providers emphasized the importance of compensation and job quality. One provider, who has taken care of children for more than two decades, spoke eloquently about the unique needs of each child and family, and the importance of providing child care choices that respect the differences in culture and life experiences.

The challenges voiced in these conversations are shared by individuals across the country, and are exacerbated by additional barriers faced by an increasingly diverse population of children and caregivers. Latino families, in particular, access child care assistance at much lower rates than other families, likely a result of state policies that create hurdles disproportionally impacting particular communities.

It is critical that child care policies and services reflect the nation’s changing demographics and the evolving needs of parents, which include care during non-traditional hours and culturally and linguistically diverse caregivers.  CLASP and its national partners are privileged to be part of the conversation. We are committed to working with state and federal leaders to improve policies, increase investments, and strengthen child care to work for families in poverty. Doing so requires prioritizing the needs of underserved families, including those in racial and ethnic minority communities and immigrant communities. The diversity of voices speaking up for child care brings new momentum to the issue at a time of great urgency.  Child care helps parents work and children learn and grow. Yet, despite child care’s centrality in so many families’ lives and to our country’s prosperity, public investments are limited, forcing low-income families to shoulder enormous cost burdens. A renewed focus—and continued conversation—on child care among an expanding group of allies is needed in this country to put child care front and center as a priority for investment. 

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