Getting The Facts On State Child Care Policies
Sep 26, 2007
Data collection and analysis is a critical component of understanding whether early childhood systems are effectively meeting the needs of young children and their families. For policymakers and advocates, it is important to understand the full range of child care policies in a state, including data on child care participation and expenditures, family income eligibility criteria, and provider reimbursement rates, to gain a better understanding of a state s child care assistance program.
This week the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) released its annual report on state child care subsidy policies, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2007: Some Steps Forward, More Progress Needed. This report compiles essential data on key state child care assistance policies. NWLC finds that while states have made some progress in the last year, most states currently have policies in place that make fewer families eligible for help paying for child care than in 2001.
Key findings of the report include:
- Thirty-three states increased their income eligibility limits to keep pace with or surpass the rise in the federal poverty level in the past year. Yet, 33 states still have income eligibility limits set lower as a percentage of poverty than in 2001.
- Seventeen states had waiting lists for child care assistance in 2007, compared to 18 states in 2006 and 22 states in 2001. The number of children on the waiting lists declined in several states as well.
- Parent co-payments for child care, as a percent of family income, were the same or lower in more than two-thirds of the states than in 2006. Yet, in more than half of the states, the parent co-payment was higher as a percent of family income than in 2001.
The child care assistance policies highlighted in NWLC's report are an important piece of understanding state's child care assistance programs. For a full picture of programs, data on child care spending should also be considered in tandem with these policies. Often, state policy choices are driven by budgetary pressures.
CLASP analyzes state-by-state child care spending and participation data, as it is made available by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). ACF's spending tables show whether a state has made use of all available federal funds. In 2005, Utah was the only state to leave $2.6 million in unobligated funds on the table. From the data tables, it is also possible to learn whether your state is using funds spent on state pre-kindergarten or donated funds from private, non-governmental agencies to meet state match or maintenance-of-effort (MOE) spending requirements.
CLASP s analysis shows combined child care spending from CCDBG and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, as well as CCDBG participation data, for each state. From CLASP's state-by-state pages, you can learn the following about your state:
- Yearly changes in total child care spending,
- Whether your state is transferring TANF funds to CCDBG,
- The average monthly number of children served in CCDBG,
- The ages of children receiving CCDBG-funded assistance and the setting in which children are served,
- The reasons families receive CCDBG-funded assistance,
- and more!
CLASP also provides national overviews of both child care spending and participation data. Recently, FY 2006 data for the TANF program were released. When ACF releases FY 2006 CCDBG data, we will update our state-by-state pages and produce additional analysis on national trends, as in previous years.