Where do we go from here? Child Care Aware® of America is not satisfied with simply describing the problem; we are dedicated to finding workable solutions. Although by no means exhaustive, this section explores creative strategies being employed around the country to make high quality child care more affordable and available for American families.
Child Care Aware® of America Recommendations
With greater reliance on families to cover the increasing costs of finding and utilizing care for their children, it’s critical that our report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, act not as only as a means for data distribution, but as a reminder that, especially as the federal government moves closer to providing safeguards for quality child care, the federal and state governments take into consideration what solutions are at their disposal to assist families’ capacity to afford quality child care.
As increased national attention highlights the dilemma that many families find themselves facing, a choice between safe and quality care or an affordable setting, we call for:
- A national discussion about the impact of the high cost of child care and the cost of quality in child care. This conversation should explore federal and state options; innovative, low-cost solutions that have shown success; what has worked in other industries; and what models currently exist within communities that have seen success.
- Congress to require the National Academy of Sciences to produce a study on the true cost of quality child care and to offer recommendations to Congress for financing that supports families in accessing affordable, quality child care.
- Congress to review and consider what policy options are available to help families offset the rising cost of child care, including, but not limited to raising dependent care limits for deductions or providing additional tax credits for families and providers, creating public-private partnerships, and looking to existing states with successful financing models.
- Federal and state governments to commit to investing in early care and education programs, especially considering the recent historical progress at the federal level towards ensuring all children in low-income, working families have access to affordable, quality child care.
Ever-tightening budget and spending constraints threaten to exasperate the strain on the existing financial patchwork of care options already available for families.
- We call on federal and state policymakers to make child care a top priority when working on budgets.
- We call on parents, concerned citizens and early care and education professionals to urge federal and state legislators to address the often overwhelming cost of quality child care.
- Provide resources for planning and developing child care capacity to increase the availability of high quality child care options for working families.
- Reduce barriers in the subsidy administration process that prevent families from receiving assistance.
- Require states to have more effective sliding fee assistance phase-out plans to ensure that parents who receive a modest raise do not lose all child care assistance.
- Provide child care assistance to families who do not qualify for fee assistance but who cannot afford the market cost of child care in their community.
- Authorize funds for pilots in high poverty rural communities to explore strategies that braid multiple funding sources to better meet the child care needs of working parents (meeting the criteria of the strongest funding stream to ensure safe, quality care for children.