In Focus: Systems and Financing
Dec 09, 2013 | Permalink »
Confronting the Child Care Eligibility Maze
By Rhiannon Reeves
A new report from CLASP and the Urban Institute, Confronting the Child Care Eligibility Maze: Simplifying and Aligning with Other Work Supports, aims to address two important challenges faced by low-income families eligible for child care assistance: burdensome administrative processes that make it difficult to get and keep child care benefits, and the cumulative challenges clients face when they try to access other benefits for which they are eligible (i.e. SNAP - formerly known as food stamps -- and Medicaid).
The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), or Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), is intended to help defray the costs of child care for low-income working families with two main program goals: to help parents become or remain employed, and to support the safety and development of their children. These goals can be compromised, however, by burdensome administrative processes that make it challenging for low-income families to get and keep child care and other benefits.
Policymakers and stakeholders are increasingly realizing that these problems undercut the ability of CCDF and other work supports to achieve their goals-both for clients and for program efficiency. As a result, they are seeking a new way of doing business - one which focuses on improving client access and retention of benefits, service delivery, efficiency, and accountability. This approach enables eligible parents applying for child care assistance to give their information one time, be easily connected to not only child care but also the larger package of benefits for which they are eligible, and be able to keep that package of benefits as long as they are eligible with minimal burden to themselves and to the state.
Confronting the Child Care Eligibility Maze is a product of the Work Support Strategies (WSS) Initiative, a multiyear effort that is working with a select group of states to help them design, test, and implement more effective, streamlined, and integrated approaches to delivering key supports for low-income working families. Through concrete policy ideas and examples from states across the country, the report offers an in-depth guide to help states not only simplify child care subsidy policies, but also align child care policies with other work supports. With this information, states can identify strategies to improve access and retention of benefits, while improving service delivery and reducing administrative burden.
Child care should not be a maze, and this new resource helps simplify access to the variety of benefits - including child care subsidies - that help support low-income working families in their efforts to gain economic security.
Read the full report here>>
Jul 31, 2013 | Permalink »
Public Supports Investments in Early Learning; Will Congress Listen?
Seventy percent of Americans favor providing 4-year-olds with access to high-quality preschool, according to results of a national survey of voters released today by the First Five Years Fund (FFYF). The survey found that approval of early learning investments was strong across party lines. Support for a plan similar to the President's early learning proposal increased to 77 percent when respondents were told explicitly that the proposal would not add to the deficit, including 72 percent support from Republicans, 71 percent from Independents and 88 percent from Democrats. A majority of voters (51 percent) strongly support such a proposal.
It's no surprise that voters agree with increased investments in early learning. Parents, economists, and business leaders understand that learning begins at birth and that investments in quality early childhood programs help children succeed in school and in life.
Three in five voters want Congress to act on legislation now rather than wait. Will Congress listen? The answer is unclear. Recently the Senate Appropriations Committee showed its support for investing in early learning. However, when the House takes up its version of a spending bill, the outcome is likely to be different. The overall spending framework adopted by the House would force cuts on many programs, including child care and early education.
The President proposed funding his Preschool for All initiative through an increased tobacco tax, which would not require the House or Senate to allocate funding each year. Regardless, policymakers in both houses must appreciate the value in investments that support our youngest children-investments that have been shown to result in economic savings down the line.
Read FFYF's poll results here.
Jul 25, 2013 | Permalink »
A Pathway to Citizenship Plays a Positive Role in Children’s Development
Estimates show that 5.5 million U.S. children live with at least one unauthorized immigrant parent-4.5 million of these are U.S.-born citizen children. While many have written about the experiences of children in immigrant families, little research to date has looked at how parents' unauthorized status affects their children's development. A new report from Migration Policy Institute (MPI) suggests that having an unauthorized immigrant parent is associated with negative developmental outcomes, including include lower cognitive skills and emotional well-being in early childhood and higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescence.
This negative association results from the many challenges and stresses that unauthorized immigrant families experience. Poor work conditions, psychological distress, and economic hardship often experienced by unauthorized immigrant parents working in low-wage jobs (usually due to their status) takes its toll on children, hampering cognitive and socio-emotional development in early childhood.
Children of unauthorized parents often qualify for public programs that would benefit their development. Unfortunately, however, fewer children than are eligible access these public programs due to language barriers, a lack of information and fear among their parents - also negatively impacting children.
In order to alleviate these detrimental effects on child development, there needs to be better outreach to unauthorized immigrant families around applying for public benefits. In addition, nongovernmental and advocacy organizations can act as intermediaries between immigrant communities and the government to help with increasing knowledge and awareness of these programs.
In the early childhood arena, state policies related to access and quality influence whether immigrant families participate in early childhood programs and services, as well as how successful programs are in meeting their needs through culturally and linguistically appropriate practices. Universal, public pre-kindergarten, would also help reach children with unauthorized parents and can help narrow the gaps in child development and school readiness.
Ultimately, a pathway to citizenship for parents would help address these issues. While it remains unlikely that Congress will have the fortitude to pass comprehensive immigration reform, we must still work towards meeting the needs of all young children living in this country. It is a fact that the majority of children of authorized parents are U.S. citizens. The future of all immigrant children is our future -and our country's success depends on their healthy development.