Strong Child Care Systems Help Working Families And The Economy
Feb 29, 2008
The Mississippi Economic Policy Center (MEPC) has released a new report titled Broadening the Base: Strengthening Mississippi's Working Families, Businesses and Economy through Strong Child Care Systems. MEPC highlights the importance of child care to the state's economy and to working families, yet investments in child care are insufficent. In Mississippi:
- The cost of infant child care for 9 months is more than a year of tuition at a state four-year college.
- More than 80,000 eligible children under age 13 receive no child care assistance.
- Child care providers who accept subsidized certificates receive 68% of the market rate for infant care - the most expensive care to provide.
As parents fight to keep their subsidies and providers struggle with low payment rates, MEPC makes several recommendations for strengthening child care to provide this critical work support to low-income working families. Mississippi could increase its Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) dollars spent on child care; help child care workers increase their skills through the Workforce Investment Act; reward increases in skills, education, and quality through their Quality Step System; and increase the reimbursement rate, use Community Development Block Grant funds to help support investments in child care and make investments in child care facilities that serve low-income families.
The MEPC report makes clear that Mississippi has many opportunities to leverage funds to invest in child care and help support low-income working families. Now the state has to find the will to fulfill this potential.