June 09, 2011
To view the hearing, Click here
Smith cites reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant and establishing
minimum requirements for child care as ways to improve the quality of care
Arlington, VA- National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) Executive Director Linda K. Smith testified today before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families during the hearing, “Getting the Most Bang for the Buck: Quality Early Education and Care.”
The hearing addressed the importance of early learning and ways to improve the overall quality and effectiveness of early childhood development programs.
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant has led to a patchwork array of child care settings under different laws in every state. There is no system,” said Smith. “There are no minimum protections for children. Parents can choose either licensed or unlicensed care. And, accountability for spending public dollars is weak at best.”
During her testimony, Smith compared the Military Child Care Act (MCCA) of 1989 and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) of 1990, both of which recognize parental choice. However, the MCCA, which is considered a “model for the nation,” establishes minimum quality requirements for child care while CCDBG does not.
“NACCRRA’s parent polling shows that parents neither understand nor demand quality because they simply don’t know what questions to ask,” said Smith in a written testimony. “Most make logical assumptions about licensed care such as assuming programs that are licensed include providers who have had a background check, minimum training, CPR, and other basic health and safety training. Unfortunately, there is a large gap between logical assumptions made by parents and state child care policies.”
More than 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care arrangement each week for 35 hours, on average. The CCDBG is the primary federal grant program that provides child care fee assistance for families and funds child care initiatives. States use the grants to subsidize child care for working families with low incomes. Most of this assistance is administered through vouchers or certificates, which can be used by parents for the provider or program of their choice.
To improve the quality of child care for millions of children and to help set a quality framework, NACCRRA recommends that Congress:
1. Require a minimum core set of protections for children that apply to all programs receiving federal funds of any kind and require inspections similar to DoD. Inspection reports should be posted on the Internet so that parents can make informed decisions.
2. Require comprehensive background screening of workers in order to ensure children are safe.
3. Require comprehensive training programs for the workforce that are linked to higher levels of competency and incentives.
4. Give HHS more authority to enforce the provisions of CCDBG and hold them accountable for federal funds invested. Link funding to quality, not just quantity.
NACCRRA, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, is our nation's leading voice for child care. We work with more than 800 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to ensure that families in every local community have access to high quality, affordable childcare. To achieve our mission, we lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about NACCRRA and how you can join us in ensuring access to high-quality child care for all families, visit us at www.naccrra.org.