Arlington, VA - The initiatives used to transform the military's child care system from what was once called the "ghetto of American child care" to a "model for the nation" can be implemented throughout the states to ensure that all children have access to high-quality care, according to a report released today by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). The report entitled Making Quality Child Care Possible: Lessons Learned from NACCRRA's Military Partnerships examines the lessons learned through NACCRRA's military partnerships about the cost, quality and availability of child care and reveals that if Congress replicates many of the basic initiatives implemented by the military, the quality of civilian child care can significantly improve.
"High-quality child care can be a reality for all of America's children," said Linda K. Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. "This report clearly shows that with simple policy changes, much can be accomplished. It is my hope that this report provokes a discussion among policy-makers about the current state of child care and ultimately leads to the enactment of basic requirements that will change the landscape of child care in the United States."
From the report, it is clear that high-quality child care is largely unavailable. In addition, licensing standards are minimal in most states and vary widely. Most states do not have adequate training or education requirements for providers, do not address basic health and safety requirements, and conduct minimal oversight of programs on a regular basis. Furthermore, parents are largely uninformed about the type of care they use - whether it is of high-quality, licensed, regularly inspected, etc. – as are providers, who struggle with understanding their own licensing status.
To improve the quality of civilian child care and address the shortcomings of the current child care system, NACCRRA recommends that Congress conduct hearings that focus on the quality of child care, establish quality as a national goal for all child care programs, establish minimal quality standards, extend the Crime Control Act of 1990 ( which requires comprehensive background checks for all child care providers and employees in federally-sponsored child care) to all paid child care providers caring regularly for unrelated children, establish minimum training requirements for these providers, and require states to inspect child care programs before issuing a license to care for children, and regularly thereafter, among other recommendations.