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Single-Delivery System of Child Care Could Jeopardize Options, Advocate Says

There's much talk—and some action—on the expansion of universal preschool at the federal, state, and city levels. But while many in the early-childhood education community cheer such news, at least one advocate suggests making good on such promises might cause a wrinkle in the marketplace few others have considered.

While the wealthy will continue to pay for pricey center-based programs, and the poor and the working poor will receive free or subsidized care, those caught in the middle might find themselves without many affordable options, said Michelle McCready, the director of policy for Child Care Aware of America, an Arlington-Va.-based advocacy organization.

"While most states currently utilize mixed delivery systems to provide access to their pre-K programs, taking advantage of already existing infrastructure and trained early-childhood educators, there is a concern that a single-delivery system, based primarily in school districts, for example, could divert funding away from child-care settings," McCready said. This "could lead to closures resulting in a scarce supply of quality, affordable child-care centers and homes in many communities across the country."

It's an interesting—and potentially alarming—point. Such care is often substantially cheaper than center-based care, according to a report released earlier this week by McCready's groupAnd, extrapolating from that report which cataloged the costs of all types of child care as soaring, I assume that demand for home-based providers may actually increase.

But what if those options go away? Or, at the very least, what if there are far fewer of them? Are we jeopardizing our options just as we mean to create accessibility?

What do you think, readers? And what's happening in your communities?

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