Budget Ignores Needs of Working Families with Children by Failing to Increase Child Care Funding
Arlington, VA - The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) warns that President Bush's proposed budget for fiscal year 2009 could put the children of working parents in jeopardy. Under the proposal, the budget would freeze funding for child care for the seventh year in a row. As a result of the proposal, 200,000 children will lose their child care assistance within the next two years, according to the President's own budget estimates.
"Parents cannot work without child care," said Linda Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. "Without sufficient funding to help parents pay for the rising costs of child care, our children will suffer. All children need access to high-quality child care in order to ensure their growth and development. Like groceries, gas, and college costs, the cost of child care increases for parents every year. Child care funding has been frozen for nearly a decade; that's nearly two generations of incoming kindergarten students whose child care needs have been ignored by this Administration. It is time we stopped leaving children to chance and address this issue this year - through increased access to subsidies and initiatives to improve the quality of care. Whether children receive a subsidy or not, child care ought to be safe and promote early childhood development. Too often today it is neither."
Nationally, about 2.7 million children currently receive child care assistance, which is administered through the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Funds are allocated to each state based on a formula, but each state determines how the funds will be used within broad federal parameters. At least 4 percent of the funds must be used to improve the quality of child care. In order to receive funds from CCDBG, states must have policies in place designed to protect the health and safety of children.
"Freezing funding for a seventh year not only results in fewer children being served, but also results in states cutting funds for training providers and inspecting or monitoring state standards," said Smith. "We just released a report last week on the condition of family child care homes throughout the states. State standards are weak and, sometimes, state monitoring is nonexistent. Too often, the health and safety of children is not protected. If anything, we need to expand efforts to strengthen the quality of care, not shift funding from quality investment to subsidies to make up for federal budget cuts. Both are critical."
Nationwide, nearly 12 million children under age 5 spend time every week in a child care setting. With the increasing number of women in the workforce, many parents now use child care from their child's infancy through kindergarten. The quality of that care is a matter for concern, whether children receive subsidies or not.
According to research, the early years of life are critical to a child's development. Research has also shown that 80 percent of the brain develops by age 3 and 90 percent by age 5. Child care settings that are of high-quality help ensure the safety, health, and well-being of the children in care.
For more information on high-quality child care or for a full copy of NACCRRA's recent report - Leaving Children to Chance: NACCRRA's Ranking of State Standards and Oversight of Small Family Child Care Homes, visit www.naccrra.org.