Child Care in the News
There's a lot of news out there recently related to child-care funding and policy. On Jan. 7, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released a fact sheet showing that in 2009, the federal government spent $12.4 billion on child care through the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and child-care spending as part of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). That's down slightly from 2008.
The CCDBG is up for reauthorization, bringing issues of child care for low-income families to the fore. The Urban Institute recently released a paper on the effects of instability in child care on low-income children. The paper suggests that policies to help families keep their children in stable care—ensuring funding for subsidies is present, creating strong referral systems, and providing flexible vouchers—could help offset other challenges they face.
As usual, quality is the other big issue along with money. The National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) has issued a call to strengthen state licensing requirements for child-care providers. NARA makes the point that a strong state licensing system can provide a solid foundation for a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)—a voluntary measure of quality that has become a hot trend in some states. Licensing is usually the entry level of a QRIS; once a child-care provider has met licensing standards, it can go on to demonstrate even higher levels of quality. NARA recommends states establish some common level of licensing standard to make it easier to compare quality of care across states, which is very difficult to do under the current mishmash of licensing practices.