State Opportunities to Provide Health Care Coverage for Child Care Professionals

By Suzanne Wikle and Elisabeth Wright Burak

States are grappling with how to more effectively support their child
care workforce, including ensuring providers have access to affordable
health care. Just like parents, frontline early education professionals
are better able to support children in their care when they are healthy. A
healthy caregiver is especially important for young children because brain
development in the youngest children is influenced by relationships with
caregivers at home and in child care.
 Early education professionals need
access to affordable health care in order to realize their best health and to
best serve the children in their care.

Like other workers with low incomes, child care workers often work for small businesses or are self-employed in family child care homes and lack
access to affordable coverage options. Nationally, 16 percent of child care
workers under age 65 are uninsured, compared to 13.3 percent among all
uninsured adults under age 65 in 2019.
 Notably, the rates of uninsurance
for child care workers in the 12 states that have not yet expanded
Medicaid is almost
three times as high (30.6 percent) as in expansion
states (10.3 percent). This disproportionately affects women of color, as they comprise 40 percent of the early childhood workforce and are more likely to work in early childhood than the K-12 system.
 States have policy options available to ensure affordable health coverage for low-income workers, including child care professionals. Read more in a joint brief from CLASP, the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, and the BUILD Initiative.