Reimbursement rates paid to child care providers that serve families receiving child care assistance in Wisconsin have been frozen for the past seven years, which has deprived providers of the resources they need to support high-quality care and has limited families’ child care options, according to a new report by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. In 2006, maximum rates were at the federally recommended level, sufficient to cover the price of 75 percent of child care slots, but now rates cover the price of just 23 percent of child care slots. When reimbursement rates are lower than the fee providers charge private-paying parents—as is now the case for over three-quarters of the slots in the Wisconsin—providers may refuse to serve families receiving child care assistance, may ask parents to pay the difference between the reimbursement rate and the provider’s private-pay fee, or may be forced to absorb the lost income themselves.
The failure to update rates has meant significant financial losses for child care providers serving families receiving child care assistance. For example, a center’s annual shortfall for each two- or three-year-old receiving child care assistance—the difference between the state’s current reimbursement rate and what the rate would be if set at the federally recommended level based on current market prices—ranges from $500 to $3,450 (depending on the county). Read more »
On Wednesday, I had the privilege of attending an event launching a bipartisan bill that would significantly expand high-quality early learning. The event was a big success. Here are my main take-aways and some of our favorite pictures.
This bill is a great start. The Strong Start for America’s Children Act, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY), is a huge step in efforts to expand access to affordable, high-quality preschool and high-quality early learning programs for infants and toddlers. For more information about the bill, check out our summary. And who doesn’t love a giant yellow sign held by preschool teachers?
Though the government shutdown is over and the threat of default has passed (for now), Congress remains wildly unpopular; many doubt that our elected representatives are as concerned with making the country work for ordinary Americans as they are with scoring political points. It doesn’t help that the latest jobs numbers show an economic recovery that is still painfully slow and leaving large numbers of people behind.
Providing paid family and medical leave through a new fund to which both employees and employers would contribute, modeled after successful state programs in New Jersey and California.
Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, raising the minimum cash wage for tipped workers to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and indexing both wages to keep pace with inflation, as proposed by the Fair Minimum Wage Act.
Families in 27 states were better off under one or more key child care assistance policies—having greater access to help paying for child care or receiving more generous help—in 2013 than in 2012, according to the National Women’s Law Center’s new report, Pivot Point: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2013. Families in 24 states were worse off under one or more policies. The trend during the past year was more positive than in the previous two years, when the situation for families worsened in more states than it improved. Yet, far too many families still lack the help they need to afford good-quality, reliable child care.
Many families with incomes too low to afford child care on their own do not qualify for child care assistance because of states’ restrictive income criteria. A family with an income above 150 percent of poverty ($29,295 a year for a family of three) could not qualify for assistance in 14 states. A family with an income above 200 percent of poverty ($39,060 a year for a family of three) could not qualify for assistance in 38 states. Approximately half of the states reduced their income limits or kept their income limits the same as a dollar amount, without any adjustment for inflation, between 2012 and 2013.
Even if families are eligible for assistance, they will not necessarily receive it. Instead, they may be placed on a long waiting list. Read more »
When President Obama announced his groundbreaking early learning plan, he proposed to fund the expansion of preschool and voluntary home visiting with a tobacco tax increase. Today, with eight other organizations invested in young children and/or public health, we released a report that explains the twofold benefits of this plan. Here are just four of them:
In the first year of the program, nearly 335,000 children from low- and moderate-income families will gain access to high-quality preschool. By the 10th year of the program, two million children will have access to these opportunities. TWO MILLION – somebody will need to order a whole lot of those teeny tiny chairs for all these teeny tiny learners!
“Crushed by the Cost of Child Care,” an article in Sunday’s New York Times, highlights a dilemma faced by millions of families. It is not a new or a surprising story. Ask any parent in any community across this country what one of your biggest challenges is and they will say finding affordable and high-quality child care.
While we have made some progress over the years, putting in place programs to help low-income families with the cost of child care, federal and state funding is actually on a downward slide. It is hard to explain why we do not provide more help to families in affording child care given that the case for investing in young children is so strong. Child care plays two critical roles that support our economy. It helps children access the high-quality early learning environments that they need to succeed and it helps parents work and support their families. Yet we have not found the will to ensure that all our children and their families, especially the most vulnerable, have the early childhood opportunities they need.
For the sake of nation’s children, families, and economy, we need to do better. This will require policymakers to step up their commitment to child care. Read more »
As a young woman looking for a career after college, I know that the playing field is still far from level for women in the workplace. We’re subject to a stubborn wage gap between men and women doing equivalent jobs; persistent occupational segregation of women into low-paying jobs; an inadequate federal minimum and tipped minimum wage, which is hardest on women since we make up two-thirds of those paid the minimum wage or less; and sexual harassment. And this week I learned another troubling statistic: managers are more likely to grant higher-status male employees’ requests for flexible work schedules than they are to grant requests from equivalent female employees. Read more »
This week marks the 165th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention in U.S. history. The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton for the convention asserted that “all men and women are created equal” and called for legal and societal reforms reflecting that equal status, including “securing to woman an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions, and commerce” and – more radical still – granting women the right to vote.
This afternoon on Capitol Hill, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and several other House Democrats – women and men – gathered with women’s rights advocates of today to recognize the immense progress that women have made since 1848 – as well as the work yet to be done to ensure that women have equal opportunity to support themselves and their families. To address the challenges facing women in the 21st century, they unveiled an important new initiative, “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families.”
A recent National Women’s Law Center fact sheet showed that sixteen states had already increased funding for early learning programs this year and several more were considering increases. Three more states—Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington—have since finalized budgets that include notable new investments for early care and education.
In Massachusetts, the FY 2014 budget designated over $26 million in new funding for early care and education, including $15 million to reduce the waiting list for child care assistance for low-income children, and $11.5 million for a rate reserve that will help raise the salaries of early educators. It is the first budget since 2009 that seeks to restore funding that was cut during the economic recession. Read more »
As the single mother of two young children, Losia Nyankale’s job is what keeps her family afloat. But between earning low wages and having no paid sick days, Losia is just one child care emergency away from losing her job. This pressure made it difficult for Losia to care for her mother when she suffered a stroke, and it forced Losia to return to work immediately after the birth of her second child—despite her doctor’s orders. Losia works long hours to be able to afford her basic living expenses and child care. And she often finds herself in an all-too familiar bind: if she picks up more shifts to earn a better living, the child care costs that she can barely afford now will rise, and she’ll have even less time with her family. Losia would like to go back to school to improve her situation, but the combination of low wages, lack of paid sick days, and lack of affordable child care, keep that dream from coming true for now.
For many years Teresa worked on call as a banquet server and had an extremely difficult time arranging child care at the last minute for her children because of her unpredictable schedule. She found herself turning down jobs or quitting jobs where she wasn’t able to arrange child care, even though she needed the income badly. Like Losia, Teresa was a single mom who often didn’t earn enough money to pay for care. Read more »