Child care

Because children’s experiences in the first five years of life establish the foundation for ongoing learning and progress, high-quality early care and education for all children is critical. Unfortunately, the American system for the provision of early care and education is deeply fragmented and severely under-resourced, which results in vastly uneven quality of and access to services. Quality child care access and affordability is a particular hardship for low- and moderate-income families, exacerbating inequities that can then persist for generations. That is why policymakers at every level of government need to prioritize investments in the child care system the same way they do infrastructure investments, because an effective child and early education system supports not just families but the economy and society overall.

At the same time, the United States lacks adequate national policies to support parents’ ability to remain in the labor force after having children, many parents—mostly mothers—drop out. This has important ramifications for their future work prospects, including their career path and earnings potential, which in turn have implications for family income levels, family well-being, and the economy as a whole. Lastly, it should not be overlooked that nearly 2 million adults, mostly women, are currently paid to provide early care and education services to more than 12 million children across the country. If these jobs were properly rewarded, they could be a desirable form of employment in every community. All of these challenges can be addressed with bold state, local, and federal investments in America’s children and families.

Publications

Enhanced child care funding makes life better for Alabama’s children and families

Maintenance of federal CCDBG funding at the 2018 level is critical for continued progress in the provision of child care for low- and moderate-income children in Alabama. Increased funding would allow Alabama to expand the number of children who receive assistance by increasing income eligibility to 85% of median family income. It also would allow Alabama to increase per-child subsidies to programs. And that would improve the incomes of child care teachers and the retention of well-qualified and educated teachers.

Enhanced child care funding makes life better for Alabama’s children and families

Quality, affordable child care is essential for families seeking to escape poverty and participate in employment, education and training activities. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), a federally funded program that subsidizes care for low and moderate-income parents of young children, provides critical funding for affordable child care.

In Alabama, CCDBG funds are administered by the Department of Human Resources (DHR). The agency also administers the closely related Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program. Congress reauthorized the CCDBG in 2014 and included significant quality improvement goals for states. In 2018, Congress provided a historic CCDBG funding increase, allowing DHR to serve more Alabama children in higher-quality settings.

The Cost of Losing Child Care Assistance in New Mexico

Everyone should have the opportunity to work hard and achieve family economic security. And hard work should also be rewarded, but some policies are insufficient and inadvertently keep hard-working parents from climbing the economic ladder. Hard-working families with fewer resources may need work supports to help them cover basic necessities like food, child care, or health care until these families can be financially self-sufficient. But some of these work supports have an inherent flaw known as the cliff effect. The cliff effect occurs when an increase in income is enough to disqualify a family from receiving a work support but is not enough to cover the cost of the lost benefit. Thus, with the cliff effect, wage increases are not always equivalent to an improved financial situation and can actually leave families worse off than they were when they qualified for those benefits. Fortunately, there are simple solutions to this problem.

Roadmap to a Stronger New Mexico

New Mexico’s unique cultural diversity, great natural beauty, and strong sense of community make it a resilient state, but there’s much more work to be done to achieve our full potential. Tax cuts for the wealthy and well-connected have bled New Mexico of the funding we need for critical investments in education, health care, and other services that help children succeed. After years of these race-to-the-bottom economic strategies, we’ve hit rock-bottom — we’re last in the nation for child well-being.

In our Roadmap to a Stronger New Mexico, we encourage elected officials to prioritize children in policymaking and budget decisions. We ask them to make the sometimes-tough decisions to put children and families first – because that’s the best way to strengthen New Mexico.

To move forward, we must:
• Invest in working families.
• Grow good jobs by investing in education.
• Invest in health.
• Promote equity and ensure that our communities have the tools they need to prosper.
• Restore an effective and efficient government that works for everyone.