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Caring for our nation's future: The impact of ARRA funding on access to child care (Based on case studies in Georgia and Tennessee)

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Action brief: Child care
Author: 
Venkateswar, Shyama; Sagrestano, Lynda; Cuomo, Chris & Bender-Baird, Kyla
Publication Date: 
22 Aug 2012
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This policy brief looks at two cases - Georgia and Tennessee - to examine the impact of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds on low-income women’s eligibility for and access to child care, as well as the funds’ impact on child care providers’ access to increased training and ability to provide quality care.

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These framing questions guided the study:

(1) Did ARRA supplemental funding reach families that needed additional help?

(2) Were providers able to access the educational and training opportunities that ARRA funded?  

(3) What changes in the child care subsidy infrastructure are recommended for
families to access assistance with greater ease?

(4) What are the lessons to be learned from the impacts of this additional funding?

Working with local advocacy partners, the project surveyed parents and guardians who use child care in both states and conducted a focus group with child care workers in Tennessee. Drawing from the research and data collected, the Council and its research partners make the following recommendations for how to improve child care access and quality and how child care subsidies can be distributed to benefit those who need them most, both at the state and national levels:

Eligibility:
1. Raise income caps to allow more low-income working parents to receive benefits.

2. Reduce the work-hour requirement so that part-time employment is sufficient to qualify
for child care subsidies.

3. Allow eligibility for people in job training and for all students pursuing a post-secondary
education.

4. Provide child care subsidies that are not linked to Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF).

Access:
1. Improve communication to families about the application process.

2. Make provisions for children with special needs, and improve the flexibility of care
coverage to support parents who work non-traditional hours.

3. Ensure safe transportation for children to and from their care providers.

4. Develop guidelines for pricing so that centers that receive assistance to improve quality
do not raise their fees, effectively pricing out the lowest income consumers.

Quality:
1. Develop national guidelines on minimum safety requirements.

2. Invest in the training of the child care workforce.

3. Identify and disseminate best practices for improving the quality of child care.

 

 

report
Entered Date: 
22 Aug 2012
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