A Continuum of High-Quality Early Learning and Development Opportunities
Voluntary Home Visiting
Access to professional, in-home support for mothers and families with young children
Voluntary, in-home visiting programs for expectant mothers and families create a measurable, positive impact on families lives. These programs enable nurses, social workers, early childhood education specialists and other trained paraprofessionals to meet with families in their homes and advise them on the health and development their children and connect them to community services and support. We know these programs work. Home visitation services are proven to produce measurable outcomes for children and families, such as improved health, school readiness, academic achievement, parental involvement, and economic self-sufficiency, as well as reduced child maltreatment, injuries, and juvenile delinquency.
The Affordable Care Act established the first federal funding stream for voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs in 2010. That funding was renewed for two additional years in 2015, and then again for five years in 2018. However, due to limited funding, only a limited number of children and families are able to benefit from these programs. We support expanding these investments in quality home visits to improve the lives and futures of vulnerable children and families.
Quality, Affordable Child Care for Working Families
All families deserve access to safe, affordable and high-quality child care
Working families need access to high-quality, affordable child care that meets their children’s developmental needs; however the high-cost of quality child care creates an insurmountable barrier for many families. While the federal government provides support to families to help defray the cost of care, both through the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), these supports are not enough to meet the needs of all the families they are designed to serve. Fewer than 1-in-4 eligible children under five years of age benefit from CCDBG. And the non-refundable CDCTC provides no benefit to the families that most need help, and minimal support to middle-income families who still struggle to pay for quality care.
There is also a workforce problem. To provide the quality of care that children and their parents deserve, a well-trained and well-paid caregiver workforce is essential.
CDF is committed to working with our partners to ensure that all children have access to affordable, high-quality child care that supports their early development and their parents’ abilities to work. Urging Congress to pass The Child Care for Working Families Act (S.1806 and H.R.3773) is one way to help ensure that caregivers are paid a living wage and every family who needs it can afford high-quality care for their children. Introduced by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Bobby Scott on September 14, 2017, this act recognizes that children need a continuum of support in the earliest years of their lives and, in addition to child care subsidies, supports universal access to preschool, Early Head Start and Head Start for the poorest children.
Early Head Start and Head Start
Increase access to high-quality, comprehensive federal early childhood programs
We support Head Start and Early Head Start, federally funded, locally administered programs that provide quality, comprehensive early childhood development services to preschool-aged children, infants and toddlers. Head Start supports development of the whole child and promotes school readiness by providing educational, health, nutritional and social services to enrolled children, while also supporting their families. Head Start has proven results. Children who participate are school ready, less likely to need special education, and more likely to graduate high school and go on to college.
Despite serving over a million low-income children, fewer than half of eligible children are able to benefit from Head Start and less than 5 percent participate in Early Head Start.
We believe in Head Start’s mission of providing comprehensive, quality early childhood services to children and their families. Join us in advocating for increased funding for the program so more eligible children and families can benefit.
Promote access to high-quality preschool for low-income children and others with special needs
We believe that all children—especially the poorest and most vulnerable—should have access to quality preschool programs that prepare them for school and life. High-quality preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds improve school readiness and facilitate a range of positive outcomes. These programs are especially beneficial for low-income children and other vulnerable children, including those who are homeless, in foster care, are learning English as a second language or have disabilities. Unfortunately, access to preschool is often determined by parental income and the lottery of geography, and quality varies widely. While some states, such as Oklahoma, New Jersey and Georgia have prioritized access to high-quality preschool, many other states serve fewer children with weaker quality standards. We are committed to working to ensure all children, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have access to quality preschool programs that prepare them for school and life.