The earliest years of a child’s life are the time of greatest brain development and opportunity. Children’s early experiences and environments build the foundation for future health, education and life outcomes. Affordable quality child care is an essential need for many children, yet the availability of affordable child care falls far short of the need. Several new resources help make the case to increase the availability of quality care to keep children safe and learning and help parents work.
The Center for American Progress recently released a tool to examine child care supply by Congressional district. See it here. CAP had in an earlier report noted that “half of Americans live in child care deserts, communities where there are not enough licensed child care providers to serve the population of young children who need child care.” Check the status in your Congressional district and share the facts with your Congressional representative.
The State of Preschool 2018 annual report by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) reports a static picture with just a third of 4-year-olds and 5.5 percent of 3-year-olds enrolled in public school programs. NIEER asserts that “at this pace it would take states nearly 20 years to enroll even half of all 4-year-olds and it would take nearly a century to reach the 50 percent mark for 3-year olds.” Pay for pre-school teachers and spending per child also have decreased.
The National Women’s Law Center’s The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014: Update on State Implementation of Key Policies last month demonstrated the tensions and challenges that arise when new policies to increase access and promote quality child care come without sufficient funding.
The three together make a strong case for increasing funding now for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and promoting the improvements in and gaining support for the Child Care for Working Families Act of 2019.