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Giving Compass' Take:
• Despite there being a historic, federal investment in U.S. childcare, more long-term funding is needed to cover every eligible child.
• How can donors play a role in funding U.S. childcare? What are individual states doing to make the most out of their allocated budgets for early education and care?
U.S. child care is widely seen as being in crisis. It’s costly, in many states more expensive than college tuition, and hard for parents to find. Workers in the field receive low wages, leaving many eligible for public assistance. And the programs available for many families are often not up to the quality standards that support learning at a crucial stage of young children’s brain development.
Last year, Congress dramatically increased the major federal source of child care funding, allowing states to begin chipping away at problems left unaddressed after years of stagnant funding. The increase, an additional $2.37 billion each in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, allows states to add more children to program rolls, increase payments to providers, and pay for new congressionally mandated safety and quality improvements.
“There’s a real national conversation going on about broadening eligibility, universal child care,” said Christine Johnson-Staub, senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy. “I feel like this is a moment where no matter which side of the aisle people are on, people really get that child care is a critical issue for families and it’s a linchpin issue economically.”
Though advocates hailed the increase as “truly historic,” they are seeking more funding for the program, which still only serves about 1 in 6 eligible children. Early-education groups asked Congress for another $5 billion for fiscal 2020; House Democrats proposed adding about half of that, $2.4 billion next year.
Beyond the amount Congress appropriates every year, the child care program receives about $3 billion annually in mandatory funding. That money, like funding for Social Security and Medicaid, is covered annually every year without congressional action — but it hadn’t increased since the mid-90s.
Long-term, it would probably take about $100 billion annually to cover every eligible child, Nichols estimated, based on current spending and the number of eligible children served.
Read the full article about federal investment in early childcare by Carolyn Phenicie at The 74.