In Focus: Systems and Financing

Nov 19, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

President Signs Child Care Bill Bringing Major Changes to Subsidy Programs

By Hannah Matthews

After moving through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with strong, bipartisan support, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 was signed into law today by the President. This is a milestone for the CCDBG law, which has not been updated in nearly 20 years and that governs both state child care assistance for low-income working parents and state efforts to improve child care quality.  CLASP commends all those in the House, Senate and Administration who worked to make this bill become reality. 

The CCDBG Act of 2014 is an important step forward for improving the health, safety, and quality of child care. It makes crucial improvements to the program by allowing children to have more sustained access to child care assistance, supporting greater continuity of care, and helping parents stay and move up in their jobs.

Achieving a new vision of child care for low-income children – one in which child care is safer, better quality, and more affordable for parents – requires both improved policies and a significant infusion of dollars. Yet, the funding increases authorized in the bill are woefully inadequate to support implementation of new provisions and retain access for families. Even before this reauthorization, state child care subsidy systems show declining enrollment with the number children served in CCDBG having fallen to a 15-year low. The goals of the legislation will be impossible to achieve unless we stem the tide on declining participation and take seriously the need for significant investments in child care at the federal, state, and local levels.

CLASP looks forward to working with Congress to appropriate the funding necessary to implement the updated law’s important improvements and with states to implement new policies in ways that best support low-income working parents and their children.

Oct 23, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Screening as a First Step for Early Success

By Christine Johnson-Staub

As national health and child development leaders and policymakers work to increase developmental screening rates and improve child outcomes, child care and early education programs are critical partners. A new CLASP brief, First Steps for Early Success: State Strategies to Support Developmental Screening in Early Childhood Settings, explores the role of child care and early education programs in connecting children to developmental screening, as well as national efforts and funding streams to support developmental screening and its relationship to early childhood.

Developmental screening is a critical first step to marking milestones and identifying problems or potential problems that may threaten children’s foundation and lead to additional delays and deficits later in childhood. While developmental delays and disabilities cut across all populations, children from poor and low-income families can be at higher risk. Yet, many young children never receive a screening, and among those who do receive screens, many do not obtain effective follow-up that leads to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of further problems.

State leaders can meet short-term and long-term goals for children’s success by implementing finance and policy strategies that create partnerships between health care, child care, early intervention, and other professionals and programs serving young children to increase the number who receive regular screenings and related follow-up services. First Steps for Early Success includes state policy examples and recommendations stakeholders can draw on when considering how to expand access to developmental screening in early childhood settings.

Read First Steps for Early Success: State Strategies to Support Developmental Screening in Early Childhood Settings>>

Jul 24, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Child Care Assistance: An Essential Work Support Program for Families

By Hannah Matthews and Christina Walker

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.

Read the full brief here>>

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