By Shira Small and Alyssa Fortner
Child care costs are often one of the biggest expenses for families, especially those with lower incomes. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated already unaffordable child care prices. This is particularly challenging for families with infants and toddlers because the cost of their care is the highest compared to older children, while available care is the most limited. These expenses also come at a time when parents with infants and toddlers are often young or early in their careers. To advance equity in child care access for families with infants and toddlers, federal and state policymakers must boost funding dedicated to helping them afford it.
Disparities in cost and federal support for care of America’s youngest children
Across all types of care settings, infant and toddler care is more expensive than care for older children. Recent U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau data show that the annual median cost of infant care is roughly $5,000 more and the annual median costs for toddler care is roughly $2,000 more than for preschool age children. Infant and toddler care requires smaller classroom sizes and lower child-to-provider ratios, raising the price of care and limiting its availability. This applies to both home- and center-based providers. Center-based infant care is the costliest form of care, with the median price per child reaching $27,220 in 2022 dollars for one year of care.
The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) seeks to help families with low incomes afford care by subsidizing its cost for families with low incomes. But the resources are limited. Only 1 in 6 eligible children currently receive subsidies, leaving millions of children and families without affordable care. Children younger than three accounted for 27 percent of children who received a subsidy in 2020. Even with the support of CCDBG, families’ needs far exceed the availability of assistance due to higher provider costs, lower reimbursement rates, and fewer available slots for infants and toddlers.
Research shows that infant care costs 49 percent more than care for a preschooler, on average. Yet, child care subsidy rates for CCDBG—or the subsidized rates parents pay to providers—were only 26 percent higher for infant care providers. The gap between the subsidy rates and the cost of licensed infant care exceeds $400 per month in almost half of states, according to a 2020 Center for American Progress report.
Decades of underfunding harms families and communities
Without sustained federal funding to the child care sector, states are forced to make hard choices about how to allocate money and who receives care—with infants, toddlers, and their families often paying a significant price.
Infants and toddlers experience one of the most important phases of childhood development, making access to quality child care incredibly valuable. But the resources to afford this care are not divided among all families equally. Families of color and families with low incomes face the greatest barriers accessing affordable, high-quality child care that meets their scheduling, linguistic, and cultural and/or community needs due to systemic racial and economic inequities.
A lack of investments in child care and early education over many decades has exacerbated longstanding equity challenges related to increasing access to care and making it affordable. Reduced access to child care also reduces parents’ workforce participation, further reinforcing a cycle of inequality. Underinvestment has also made it more difficult to ensure the child care workforce is valued, supported, and paid well.
Increased and targeted investments can strengthen equity in access
For too long, states have been forced to make significant tradeoffs in their child care subsidy systems due to limited resources. Every positive step forward comes at the expense of another needed investment. Without larger, intentionally allocated investments, states will always be forced to consider restrictive policies aimed at reducing costs. These decisions will continue to result in certain populations having greater access to child care than others, harming families of color and families with low incomes most.
Increasing federal funding for child care will allow states to extend subsidies to more parents of infants and toddlers as well as help eliminate the harmful compromises demanded by insufficient funding. This is vital to increasing the supply of child care for infants and toddlers, making care more affordable for parents, and supporting the care workforce.
This statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, President and Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy
Washington, D.C., March 9, 2022—President Biden released his FY 2024 budget today, outlining his priorities for federal investments in the health, wellbeing, and economic security of children, working families, seniors, and communities. Over the past few years, the United States demonstrated that, with the political will, we can dramatically reduce child poverty, expand health coverage, and support workers and caregivers—all of which in turn expanded the economy and reduced racial inequities. The question now is whether we will continue to build on these investments and ensure that our economy works for all. In some instances, the administration is proposing bold and effective policies that advance equity and prosperity. In other areas, especially immigration and public safety, the president’s budget requests and policy priorities undermine these goals.
The president’s budget arrives at a politically charged and highly partisan moment in our national politics. The House majority is threatening default on the debt unless the President agrees to steep cuts to critical programs. It’s also a time when pandemic-era assistance programs are winding down, with millions of people receiving less food assistance and facing risks of losing health insurance coverage under Medicaid. Congress faces clear choices, between continued investments to strengthen our economy and promote opportunity, paid for with responsible tax policy, or a default or budget cuts that would likely send the U.S. into recession.
The budget makes clear that raising the revenue needed to fund these crucial investments requires corporations and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share—a more equitable approach to tax policy that is long overdue and one CLASP fully supports. We endorse President Biden’s commitment to bringing greater fairness to our tax system which currently favors corporate interests and the affluent. Through bold measures such as raising taxes on capital gains and stock buybacks, higher Medicare taxes on high-income earners, a 25 percent minimum tax for billionaires, and eliminating a host of tax subsidies, the president is reversing some of the damage caused by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and raising the funds needed to invest in families and communities. In fact, the president’s plan reduces our overall debt by $3 trillion while also shoring up our social protection system.
The United States saw historic reductions in child poverty, especially for Black and Hispanic children because of the Child Tax Credit in 2021, and we are glad to see a permanent, fully refundable version in the budget. The budget also supports expanding access to rental assistance and affordable housing programs. We also appreciate the continued investment in modernizing and strengthening the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system, as well as principles to reform UI to make it more robust, responsive, and equitable.
The budget proposed a significant increase in funding for nutrition assistance programs such as school meals and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The budget also to aims to reduce barriers to access in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s number one tool at fighting hunger and food insecurity. The budget calls out many of the restrictions on SNAP access, such as the time limits, the denial of full benefits to residents of the territories, college students, and people with previous convictions, that we and other advocates have identified as amplifying racial and other existing inequities. Removing these barriers is an opportunity to make progress on a key policy priority to ensure that all people have access to healthy and affordable food.
It’s encouraging to see President Biden renew his commitment to strengthening the nation’s care infrastructure, which is essential to strengthening our economy and connecting people to economic opportunity and mobility.
We applaud the budget’s historic, proposed $600 billion investment over ten years in child care and early education programs. This investment will expand access to child care for 16 million more children–more than eight times the number of children who currently receive assistance for child care. Equally important is the president’s proposal to expand pre-K education, which will provide access to four million four-year-olds and eventually to 3-year-olds as well. All young children deserve equitable access to high-quality child care and early education and this proposal supports this goal.
The Biden administration also renewed its support and commitment to a national paid family and medical leave program with a proposed investment of $325 billion. This program would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for individuals to take time away from work to care for a newborn, sick child or family member, or to deal with their own illness. For more than 30 years, advocates have been fighting for paid leave, and in states where it’s been implemented, we know paid leave works, improving women’s earnings and workforce participation, maternal health outcomes, and children’s development. The budget also includes funding to support the creation of additional state-paid leave programs and for enforcement of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides job-protected, unpaid leave. Among additional proposals supporting the care economy, the budget includes guaranteed paid sick days and a $150 billion investment in home-based community services for seniors and people with disabilities.
The budget fulfills the president’s commitment to make Medicare solvent and would make permanent the improved Affordable Care Act subsidies that were temporarily extended last year. We applaud efforts to close Medicaid coverage gaps in non-expansion states, and to make 12 months of postpartum coverage available in all states. These are important steps towards reducing health disparities, including by race. We are glad to see continued investments in mental health that will strengthen networks of the behavioral health workforce, increase parity between physical and mental health care, and expand coverage for providers.
While the Biden’s student debt relief program is on hold as the U.S. Supreme Court considers challenges to the plan, there is still a need for additional investments to support the aspirations of young adults to pursue postsecondary education and training. The administration’s budget proposal doubles the maximum Pell grant award by 2029 and provides $500 million to partially fund free community college, both positive steps toward expanding access to postsecondary education for young adults in low- and moderate-income families. We are pleased that the president calls for expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit for adults without children raised at home to young adults ages 19-24. Finally, the budget acknowledges that the country’s youth are experiencing a mental health crisis, and notes the importance of allocating resources towards treatment, although CLASP would like to see a stronger emphasis on prevention that engages young people with positive messaging around well-being.
The increased investment in Registered Apprenticeships with an emphasis on the inclusion of women and people of color is encouraging. Registered Apprenticeships are proven, high-quality training programs that provide pathways to quality jobs. The Biden budget reflects the administration’s strong commitment to fighting climate change by establishing a Civilian Climate Corps and other job training programs in emerging, green industries. We’re pleased to see an increased investment in community college capacity to deliver high-quality training programs and investments in workforce development programs. Robust workforce development funding is essential to ensure that workers of color, women, youth, and individuals with barriers to employment are able to access the millions of jobs created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
The president’s budget once again requests funding to support cities in hiring 100,000 new police officers nationwide. This is an outdated and racially inequitable approach to public safety. This proposal would endanger the lives of Black, Brown and Indigenous people whose communities continue to bear the brunt of this country’s police violence epidemic. The budget rightly invests in upstream and community-based safety strategies, but these investments cannot undo the harm from over-policing. The United States leads wealthy democracies in police killings per capita, and research suggests that police spending does disappointingly little to ensure public safety, while greater training does even less to prevent police violence. We encourage the administration to follow the evidence toward community safety strategies that invest in youth economic opportunities and well-being such as youth mobile crisis response models and quality jobs for young people.
There is little we can endorse about the proposals in the president’s budget on immigration. We disagree that many of the steps the administration has taken or proposed are contributing to a “safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.” The budget does include essential and important investments to support refugee services and immigration processing, including resources for the Office of Refugee Resettlement for legal counsel and post-release services for unaccompanied children. But those resources are dwarfed by the outsized increases in Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as $4.7 billion in a contingency fund to respond to migrants arriving at the Southwest border that we oppose. Coupled with recent announcements such as the proposed asylum ban and reports about possible reinstitution of family detention, we are deeply concerned that the administration continues to uphold and expand nearly all of the problematic and harmful policies that arose during the Trump Administration. They fly in the face of President Biden’s previous commitments, harm children and families, and undermine the standing of the United States in the global fight for democracy.
By Tiffany Ferrette, Alycia Hardy & Alyssa Fortner
This brief will outline the history of inequitable disciplinary practices in child care and early education—and in the context of American society more generally. In addition, the brief will examine how equitable data practices can uncover important, program-level information that tells the story of current realities and can center racial equity in data planning and collection. Finally, this brief will explore current child care systems such as the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and Head Start, which are microcosms of the larger privatized system. Equitable data practices are a key first step when examining all these issues and strengthening early care and education experiences.
By Amanda Freeman and Lisa Dodson
“According to the Center for Law and Social Policy, families below the poverty line who pay privately for childcare typically spend an average of 30% of their income on it. The prohibitive cost of childcare forced several moms we met to compromise on the quality of care, just to ensure their kids were somewhere.”
Read the full article here.
The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is pleased that the Biden Administration is re-establishing the White House Task Force on New Americans. This critical interagency task force aims to ensure that immigrants–including those newly arrived and those who have long-established roots in the United States–are supported in becoming thriving members of their communities. As the task force takes on its work, we want to stress the importance of advancing comprehensive and inclusive solutions that reflect the diversity of the immigrant community. Such an approach requires addressing the needs of immigrants with low incomes, as well as adopting a whole-family, multi-generational strategy that recognizes the reality of mixed-status families. CLASP recently submitted solicited recommendations to the White House Task Force on New Americans that draw on our cross-sector expertise in immigration and anti-poverty policies.
>>Recommendations can be found here
By Louis Jacobson
“The data aren’t consistent across studies, and the impact varies depending on the type and length of preschool enrollment and the racial and socioeconomic background of the students,” said Archana Pyati, a spokesperson for the Center for Law and Social Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.
Read the full article here.
By Nicolas Martinez
Last night, President Biden’s State of the Union Address reiterated the crucial need for policies that invest in people and families. Among other things, families and workers need quality child care, paid leave, and home and community-based care. In his address to Congress, President Biden made clear that his administration prioritizes programs that ensure prosperity, good health, and overall well–being for all communities and people in the United States. As the president said, “We’re building an economy where no one is left behind.” Our country’s public benefits, tax, and health coverage programs are critical to achieving these goals.
The federal policies and programs enacted in the first two years of Biden’s presidency dramatically reduced poverty and hardship, narrowing racial disparities, and improving long-term outcomes for children and families. Now, it’s time for Congress to get the job done.
Here’s a look back at seven of the top tweets last night during the State of the Union that highlighted the need to enact the economic, social, and racial justice policies that are critical to people with low incomes, communities of color, and immigrant families and children:
1. Stephanie Schmidt, CLASP’s director of child care and early childhood education, highlighted the need for a new vision of the care economy. Parents must have the ability to raise a family with adequate sick days, and not need to win the “boss lottery” and hope for paid leave:
“Let’s also make sure working parents can afford to raise a family with sick days, paid family and medical leave, and affordable child care that will enable millions more people to go to work.” -Pres. Biden #sotu2023 #StateofChildCare #CareCantWait 👏👏👏👏
— Stephanie Schmit (@SCSchmit) February 8, 2023
2. When President Biden said, “And we pay for these investments in our future by finally making the wealthiest and the biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share.” Indivar Dutta-Gupta, CLASP’s executive director, had it right, the Biden Administration can deliver historic economic progress if he stands firm on raising corporate taxes and adequately funding the IRS:
“And we pay for these investments in our future by finally making the wealthiest and the biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share.” – #POTUS
Yes! @POTUS had the right plan and idea from the start: https://t.co/sG7hqmmGRV
— ‘Indi’ Dutta-Gupta (@IndivarD) February 8, 2023
3. This tweet from Alycia Hardy, CLASP senior policy analyst for child care and early education, got it right: when we don’t invest in policies that help workers and families live, thrive, and ensure economic security for all, we are betting against ourselves:
When we don’t invest in #PaidLeave, affordable #ChildCare that meets the range of family needs, #FairWages, access to health care, mental health supports, affordable college, career training, affordable housing, healthy affordable food…we are betting against ourselves #sotu2023
— Alycia Hardy (@ahardyMPA17) February 8, 2023
4. We had some thoughts when President Biden compared the United States with the rest of the world:
Let’s talk about how the US compares with the world:
The US is the only wealthy country in the world without a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program. #PaidLeaveForAll #SOTU2023 https://t.co/Bvlua0QjqW
— CLASP (@CLASP_DC) February 8, 2023
5. There were also some parts of the speech where we were disappointed, particularly on immigration:
A pathway to citizenship would be transformative for children living in mixed-status families, including 5 million kids. @POTUS must use administrative action to provide relief and work with Congress to achieve a path to citizenship. #SOTU2023 https://t.co/FksTuDzdC2
— CLASP (@CLASP_DC) February 8, 2023
6. This moment when the president brought up mental health care. We should take a critical look at the role of law enforcement in mental health care systems, which have been complicit in racism and discrimination, and perpetuate negative narratives about Black Americans, specifically young Black people with mental health conditions. Congress should take law enforcement out of mental health responses:
We must tackle and decriminalize mental health crisis response. The president and Congress should priorities alternative forms of response aside from using law enforcement as the default. #SOTU2023 https://t.co/YY1IdgYBvX
— CLASP (@CLASP_DC) February 8, 2023
#POTUS is right to emphasize alternatives to law enforcement and acknowledge that the path to public safety runs right through public services and investments that meet basic human needs. https://t.co/gWAJ6Jz71L #sotu2023
— ‘Indi’ Dutta-Gupta (@IndivarD) February 8, 2023
7. Finally, CLASP applauds the president for doubling down on a commitment to families. The expanded fully refundable Child Tax Credit provided relief to millions of families and children and drove one of the largest drops in child poverty in recent history. It’s time now for Congress to bring back the refundable Child Tax Credit and make those improvements permanent. As Ashley Burnside, CLASP senior policy analyst of income and work supports, wrote, “We know how to eradicate child poverty – we just need the political will to implement proven policy solutions to support families. Allowing child poverty to continue is a policy choice.”
The #ChildTaxCredit helped more than 36 million families afford groceries, pay their bills, and make ends meet in 2021. The bills come monthly, & so should the checks. @POTUS should call for Congress to act, bec. #CTC $$$ are critical to helping families fight inflation #SOTU
— CLASP (@CLASP_DC) February 8, 2023
It’s time for Congress to act and follow through with policies creating a strong economy that invests in people. Congress and the administration should prioritize robust, sustainable, and transformative child care funding. Congress must pass permanent comprehensive paid sick days and paid family and medical leave laws. Congress must renew the refundable CTC. Congress must enact a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status holders, and undocumented immigrants. Congress must also roll back harmful measures such as the funding in The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act for school hardening and surveillance measures, which are the opposite of “safe.” These measures, which disproportionately harm young people of color and young people with disabilities, conflict with the administration’s commitment to racial equity, and Congress must roll them back.
Want to stay up to date with CLASP’s work in the future? Follow CLASP on Twitter at @CLASP_DC.
By Ariel Gilreath
There is some flexibility in how states use the CCDGB funds, but there isn’t enough flexibility or funding to substantially increase wages for workers, said Alycia Hardy, a senior policy analyst for the Center for Law and Social Policy. This is because most of the CCDBG funds must be used for direct services, like providing subsidies for families.
Read the full article here.
On Thursday, December 29, 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (also known as the “omnibus bill”). The appropriation for fiscal year (FY) 2023 included more than $8 billion in total annual discretionary funds for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in addition to increases for other important child care and early education programs such as Head Start. CCDBG is a critical support for families with low incomes who, without access to assistance, would likely be unable to afford their current child care arrangements. However, due to limited federal funding, the program was only able to serve 1 in 6 eligible children in 2019. The annual appropriations process serves as an important opportunity to increase federal investments in programs to respond to increased need and ensure funding keeps up with rising inflation.
The FY 2023 CCDBG appropriation of $8 billion represented a $1.9 billion increase above the previous year’s funding, a 30 percent increase. This is the second largest increase in discretionary funding in the history of CCDBG—following the $2.4 billion increase in FY 2018. The increase is a much-needed step in the right direction, particularly when considering that from FY 2019-FY 2022 the combined four-year discretionary increases only totaled $939 million. As concerns about economic recovery, unemployment, and inflation continue—and with federal funding provided through the American Rescue Plan act set to expire at the end of the next fiscal year (September 2024)—significant and sustained increases in annual discretionary funding remain a critical support. And, given the fragile nature of the child care sector, due to decades of insufficient federal funding, the need for long-term and sustainable increases for child care remains ever present.
The following table provides each state’s actual distribution of grant year (GY) 2022 annual discretionary funds; the estimated distribution for GY 2023 discretionary funds; and the estimated increase from FY 2022 to FY 2023. The increases in 2023 for each state range from $2 million in Vermont to $209 million in Texas.
For questions, please contact Alycia Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|State||Distribution of GY2022 Discretionary Funds||Estimated Distribution of GY 2023 Discretionary Funds ||Increase from GY 2022 to GY 2023 Discretionary Funds|
|District of Columbia||$9,344,845||$12,214,441||$2,869,596|
 An omnibus bill combines or consolidates all 12 individual federal appropriation bills into one single bill to be passed and signed into law.
 Nina Chien, Factsheet: Estimates of Child Care Eligibility & Receipt for Fiscal Year 2019, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1d276a590ac166214a5415bee430d5e9/cy2019-child-care-subsidy-eligibility.pdf.
 CLASP calculation based on enacted appropriations amount according to each appropriations bill, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2471/text, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/hr2617/BILLS-117hr2617enr.pdf .
 Fiscal Year (FY) refers to the period from October 1 through September 30, during which states and territories may spend funds awarded in the current and prior years. Grant Year (GY) refers to the year the funds were awarded, although states and territories may liquidate some CCDF funding streams in later fiscal years. Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) State and Territory Spending Under The Grant Year 2019 Award as of 9/30/2020, Office of Child Care https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/data/ccdf-expenditures-overview-gy-2020-9-30-2020.
 CCDBG annual discretionary funds are distributed based on three main factors, the first two of which compare the ratio of the number of children within a state to the number of children in the country within the following categories: the number of children under five and the number of children who receive free or reduced priced lunch. The distribution is also based on a comparison of the three-year national per capita income with the three-year average state per capital income.
 CLASP’s estimated state discretionary funding distributions are derived from the GY 2022 CCDF Allocations based on Appropriations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2022, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/data/gy-2022-ccdf-allocations-based-appropriations. Actual amounts may differ due to Secretary authority and discretion in set-aside funding.
 The total reflects the discretionary funding amount detailed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 including funds for tribes, territories, and states, as well as funds for research, evaluation, technical assistance, and the CCDF hotline and website. The total does not reflect the $62 million transferred from CCDBG at the discretion and authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services—based on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018—which reduced the total amount of funds allocated to $6.1 billion in FY 2022. In addition, the total does not include any funds available through the American Rescue Plan act.
 The total includes all discretionary funds for tribes, territories, and states, as well as funds for research, evaluation, technical assistance, federal administration, and the CCDF hotline and website as detailed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/hr2617/BILLS-117hr2617enr.pdf .
 The estimated increase in funds from FY 2022 to FY 2023 is based on the amounts detailed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 and does not reflect the $62 million that was transferred out of CCDBG under the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services in GY 2022 https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/data/gy-2022-ccdf-allocations-based-appropriations.
By Alyssa Fortner
CLASP applauds the passage of the FY2023 omnibus spending package with increased investments in key child care and early education programs. The package includes over $2.8 billion in combined increases for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCBDG), Head Start, and the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDGB5). The investment in CCDBG is 30 percent above FY2022, while the investments in Head Start and the PDGB5 are both 9 percent above FY2022. Notably, however, the package leaves out other crucial investments in programs that also support families with low incomes, such as extending the Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansions passed under the American Rescue Plan Act and strengthening comprehensive nutrition supports for young children.
The omnibus includes the following investments in programs that support young children and their families in accessing high-quality, affordable child care and early education:
The package also includes reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program through the Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act. The Act doubles funding for MIECHV over five years, doubles the tribal set-aside to address inequities with the American Indian and Alaska Native communities, authorizes virtual visits, enhances financial management and oversight, eases administrative burdens, and dedicates funds to retain the home visiting workforce.
CLASP and partners have tirelessly advocated for these important increases for children and families. We applaud Congress for the passage of this spending package. These investments show Congress’s commitment to improving child care and early education programs, and we look forward to continuing to advocate for large, sustained investments for the field in 2023 and beyond.