In Focus: Economic Recovery
May 13, 2013 | Permalink »
Parental Unemployment Takes its Toll on Children
As the U.S. continues recovering from the Great Recession, unemployment among the nation's families is a persistent concern. In an average month in 2012, 6.2 million children lived with unemployed parents, and 12.1 million children were affected by an unemployed or underemployed parent. Parental unemployment and underemployment can create instability for low-income children, which can be exacerbated when families face reduced eligibility for child care subsidies, or loss of subsidies entirely. Federal cuts to child care and Head Start funding under sequestration may further reduce access as Head Start classrooms close, and states tighten their child care subsidy eligibility policies.
A recent report from the Urban Institute and First Focus analyzes unemployment from the perspective of children, looking at the impact a parent's job loss can have on children and how many children around the country have been affected by this. Families experience decreased financial resources with the loss of a job, making it hard to cover monthly expenses and provide for their children's developmental needs. Increased parent irritability and depression as a result of job loss can strain family relations and lead to increases in conflicts. Several studies have shown unemployment can negatively impact children's school performance.
The report finds that black children are twice as likely to live with an unemployed parent as white children, and that children of college-educated parents are less likely to have unemployed parents than other children. Children in single-parent families are also more likely to live with an unemployed parent than children in two-parent families. The number of children with unemployed parents varies greatly across states. Nationally, 9 percent of children live with at least one unemployed parent. In California, 11 percent of children live with at least one unemployed parent, and 13 percent of children in the District of Columbia live with at least one unemployed parent. However, less than 4 percent of children in North Dakota and Vermont live with an unemployed parent.
Families and children with one or more unemployed parent would benefit from strengthened policies for unemployment insurance, child care subsidies, and other benefit programs that are critical to the stability and well being of low-income, vulnerable families. In combination with consistent funding, strong child care subsidy policies that can help families weather the disruptions of employment include:
- Extended job search periods for families who have been eligible for subsidies but have had hours reduced, or have become unemployed;
- More flexible eligibility and reporting requirements, such as reducing the employment or salary triggers for changes in subsidy eligibility;
- Annual eligibility redetermination policies, to allow children continuity in care settings while their parents weather bumpy economic roads.
Policies should reflect what is best for children and families during times of unemployment. Thoughtful action at the federal, state, and local level can help support families through this difficult time and reduce the negative impact unemployment can have on children and the entire family.
Oct 17, 2011 | Permalink »
Investing in Early Education is a Boost to California's Economy
The stagnant economy has led many states to make severe cuts to benefit programs and be more strategic about investing their shrinking resources. These cuts have disproportionately hurt low-income families who often need assistance in making ends meet. One kind of assistance comes in quality child care and early education (ECE), which gives children a good start in life and helps parents find and keep work. Now, there's a new report that adds to the research showing that investing in ECE is good for the economy as well.
The UC Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education finds significant short- and long-term benefits of investing in early care and education, which play a crucial role in developing California's economy and infrastructure. Researchers report that the California ECE industry serves more than 850,000 children and families and brings in $5.6 billion ever year. California's ECE industry has a significant impact on parents' purchasing power, economic output, jobs, and tax revenue. Parents who rely on child care and early education services have a purchasing power of $26.4 billion based on annual earnings. Spending on the ECE industry supports close to 200,000 jobs in California-both those directly involved in the industry and jobs in educational supplies, food, health care, and other industries. It also results in more than half a billion dollars in state and local tax revenue.
Investment in ECE has long been shown to provide substantial benefits over years and decades. When children participate in quality child care and early education programs they do better in school and in life. When parents have access to reliable child care they are able to participate in the workforce, increase their productivity, and ultimately help improve businesses' bottom-line. Access to child care also helps reduce worker absenteeism and turnover and is tied to the career availability and earnings of mothers, as well as parents' ability to pursue education. This report adds to a body of research that proves investing in ECE can contribute to growing the economy now and in the future. Policymakers concerned with the present economy should make wise choices and consider the importance of child care and early education investments.
Feb 02, 2011 | Permalink »
Indiscriminate Budget Cuts at What Toll?
The recent House proposal to slash domestic spending to 2008 levels would mean millions lost in funding for early childhood programs.
It's easy to give short shrift to this number when discussing it broadly and in the abstract. After all, there is wide agreement that balance needs to be restored to the federal budget. President Obama has called for a five-year freeze in domestic, non-defense discretionary spending and states are grappling with budget shortfalls and considering across the board cuts, including human services.
But when discussing balancing the budget and cutting programs, we shouldn't be contented to talk about it abstractly and across the board. Human services cuts have real impact on individual families' ability to secure all they need for their children to thrive.
More specifically, cuts to early childhood programs have implications for short- and long-term child and family well-being. At CLASP, we analyzed what would happen to child care funding, and the families that depend on these services, if the House plan moves forward. But that analysis seemed insufficient. We wanted to dig deeper and consider the impact on an individual family. We mapped out what would happen to a fictional family of three in Toledo, Ohio, with a household income of $27,000 per year, less than 150 percent of the current federal poverty level. If this family were lucky enough to obtain a subsidy, they would pay $200 a month for child care. Based on data from the National Association for Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), monthly costs for full-time care for an infant in Ohio average around $685. Without the subsidy, this family would have an increase of nearly $500 a month in child care expenses-more than three times what they were paying previously.