Child Care Today, And In The Future
Jan 06, 2009
The headlines tell the story:
- Four hundred and fifty children will lose child care assistance due to a state budget deficit in Nevada.
- Child care subsidies have been cut in New York, as have subsidies to providers to pay for health and safety equipment and start-up costs.
- And with fewer parents paying for child care, child care providers in several states are having trouble making ends meet.
Families need child care to work. Communities need thriving child care providers in order to prosper. Children in care need safe, stable, supportive settings. Investments in child care are investments in the current workforce, in economic development, and most importantly, investments in the future. The downturn has helped to highlight the role that child care and early education programs play in the economic health of states and localities.
It is clear that helping families afford child care and ensuring that providers can keep their doors open should be part of any economic recovery package. While immediate funding is critical to get parents to work and ensure that children are in healthy and safe environments, now is the time to also think long-term about the needs of families and their youngest children and to invest in improvements in the quality of child care, to increase opportunities for our most vulnerable children to participate in Head Start and Early Head Start, and ensure that families can afford the child care that best meets their needs.&0160;
A long-term child care agenda should:
- make child care more affordable for low-income working families;
- increase the quality of child care for all families;
- expand the supply of high quality settings, especially for families with infants and toddlers and other underserved populations;
- remove barriers that prevent families and providers from participating in or providing high quality care.
The economic situation requires immediate help for families, but it also signals the importance of supporting them in future years.