Lessons on Child Care, From the Military

By CCAoA on August 31, 2021

New York Times

But the experience of the military provides crucial lessons. Before its transformation, the military child care system was plagued by many of the same problems that plague America’s national child care system today: no clear teaching standards, inconsistent quality and low teacher pay, said Lynette Fraga, chief executive of Child Care Aware of America, a national child care advocacy organization.

“Taking the lessons they’ve learned,” Fraga said, “could be incredibly important to reimagining the civilian system.”

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COVID-19's Impact on the Child Care Industry

By CCAoA on August 21, 2021

Think Tank with Steve Adubato (New Jersey PBS)

Steve Adubato speaks with Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., CEO, Child Care Aware of America, about the ways the COVID crisis impacted the child care industry, the challenges families face in accessing affordable, quality child care, and the importance of the Biden administration’s plans for child care and early care education.

Watch the interview.

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CCAoA Supports Mask Wearing in Child Care Settings to Protect Children and Adults

By CCAoA on August 16, 2021

Child Care Aware® of America supports the use of face masks in child care settings for adults and children ages 2 and older regardless of vaccination status. This should continue to be part of a comprehensive strategy to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of children and adults.  

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “face masks can be safely worn by all children 2 years of age and older, including the vast majority of children with underlying health conditions, with rare exception. Children 2 years of age and older have demonstrated their ability to wear a face mask. In addition to protecting the child, the use of face masks significantly reduces the spread of [COVID-19] and other respiratory infections within schools and other community settings.” 

Child care providers know what safety measures to take to keep children safe, including disinfecting, handwashing, mask wearing, symptom screening, social distancing, improving ventilation and limiting group sizes. Certain prevention measures may be limited by size of the center/home (and ability to social distance) or air ventilation system, and may be beyond the control of the provider, but wearing masks is safe and inexpensive. There may also be opportunities for children to safely unmask during the day, such as when they are outside or eating while taking other precautions. 

Given recent concerns about the Delta variant, wearing masks is important to protect children, caregivers and the community at large. It is particularly important given that children under the age of 12 do not yet have access to the vaccine. And we have seen states, such as Delaware, Kentucky, Illinois, and California, take steps to ensure masking takes place in child care facilities.  

“Child care providers have gone to heroic lengths during the pandemic to ensure the health and safety of children, families and staff," said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., CEO of Child Care Aware® of America. “We must continue to encourage all adults and children age two and up to wear masks in child care facilities as a part of mitigation efforts.”  

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CCAoA Statement on Senate Passage of Budget Reconciliation Framework

By Mario Cardona on August 11, 2021

Mario Cardona, Child Care Aware® of America’s Chief of Policy and Practice, released the following statement in response to Senate-passage of an FY22 Budget Resolution:

The Senate’s vote today paves the way for Congress to make much needed, long-term investments in child care. While this is only the first step in the budget reconciliation process, it moves us towards a comprehensive package that prioritizes the needs of families and communities.  

Now is the time to act boldly – Congress must move forward with the Senate’s full proposal, no less, and they must ensure child care and preschool funding are a priority in that package. This past year reaffirmed that child care is the work that makes all other work possible. Yet, families continue to grapple with pre-pandemic issues of affordability and accessibility, hampering their ability to return to work and impacting their children's opportunities for growth and development. 

Congress must change this dynamic through sustained, long-term funding for early learning. CCAoA urges lawmakers to use the reconciliation process to make significant investments in child care and preschool so that we can grow an affordable, accessible, and equitable child care system that values the work of caregivers, promotes children’s healthy development, and supports working families. 

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Advocates pressure Congress on child care investments

By CCAoA on July 19, 2021

The 19th

As Senate Democrats  hammer out the final details of a $3.5 trillion package this week that is expected to include many of President Joe Biden’s proposals aimed at helping women and families, advocates for additional investments in child care are determined that lawmakers seize what they see as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for systemic change.

A coalition of nonprofit, advocacy and business groups are planning a week of action in Washington to keep lawmakers’ focus on overhauling an already-broken child care system that broke down further during a global pandemic that caused the worst economic slump for women in American history, they said.

Child Care Aware of America’s Anne Hedgepeth said the message they will be delivering to Congress this week as lawmakers set funding levels for caregiving proposals, along with climate and immigration priorities, is that “a big, bold investment is needed.”

“If negotiations go on, if cuts happen decreasing the amount of funds for child care and early learning, it would be fewer families, fewer programs and fewer communities that we can reach,” she said.

Child Care Aware of America is looking at this week as a “kickoff” when they can “demystify and answer any questions or concerns [lawmakers] may have.” There will be one-on-one conversations and trainings, followed by on-the-ground conversations, roundtables and other events throughout the August congressional recess, Hedgepeth said.

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"I can breathe a little bit more." Millions to receive child tax credit payments

By CCAoA on July 15, 2021

Reuters

Those are some of the ways about 39 million U.S. households could benefit once they start receiving monthly federal checks Thursday as part of a massive expansion of the child tax credit. The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University estimates that the expansion can reduce the U.S. child poverty rate by up to 45%.

The approach is notable both for its wide reach - the checks issued this week will reach nearly 90% of U.S. children, according to Internal Revenue Service estimates - and for distributing half the money monthly instead of in one lump at tax time.

“It’s really giving families the help that they need in the moment to help meet some of their basic needs,” said Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice for Child Care Aware of America, an advocacy group.

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The market controls child care costs in the U.S. Can that be changed?

By CCAoA on July 12, 2021

PBS NewsHour

During the pandemic, the federal government spent more than $50 billion to shore up the child care industry. But advocates say cost and access are still big hurdles. Over the past several months, special correspondent Cat Wise and producer Kate McMahon traveled across the country for the series “Raising the future: America’s child care dilemma.” They begin with how we got here and what’s at stake.

The first episode features CCAoA CEO Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D.

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5 Signs You're Financially Ready to Have a Baby

By CCAoA on June 29, 2021

U.S. News & World Report

Child care will likely be a family's biggest expense during the first three to four years of their child's life. 

"It is unfortunate how much families have to consider this in their family planning. It should be a situation where there is care that is affordable and high quality nearby if you need it in this country," says Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America. However, he says "the price of child care remains incredibly high. It outpaces the costs of just about any household expense in the country, except for housing in the West."

The average annual price of child care was around $9,100 to $9,600 nationally in 2019, according to a report by Child Care Aware of America. However, costs vary dramatically by region. 

In California, for example, the average annual price of center-based infant child care was $16,452, representing 17.5% of the median household income in the state. In Arkansas, the annual price of center-based infant child care was $6,443, representing 8.9% of the median household income in the state.

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Will schools and day cares require masks or COVID-19 vaccines in fall 2021?

By CCAoA on June 17, 2021

USA Today

There's no national data on vaccination rates among early childhood education staff. However, a survey conducted in March by the CDC indicated that vaccination rates among preschool workers mirrored that of the general adult population, with younger respondents more likely to express hesitancy, according to Nikki Garro, director of early childhood health programs at Child Care Aware of America.

What protocols will parents have to follow?

The protocols vary by locale and institution. However, the CDC recommends moving school pickup and drop-off to outside building as a means to limit COVID-19 transmission. This practice is very common, according to Garro, of Child Care Aware.

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The Return to the Office Is Pushing Even More Women Out of Work

By CCAoA on June 16, 2021

Bloomberg News

While finding affordable child care in the U.S. was difficult before the pandemic, several factors are making returning to the workplace now especially tough for parents. First, young children are still not eligible for vaccination, so returning workers may be concerned about transmitting the virus to them, even if the parents are inoculated. Second, good intentions and emergency care by companies are a Band-Aid, which doesn’t give parents confidence about going back to the office on a regular basis. And third, it’s even harder than it used to be to find good care.

Nationally, the estimate is that more than 30% of child care centers and 25% of in-home family day care closed during the pandemic, according to Child Care Aware of America, an organization that advocates for access to affordable child care. Staff turnover was high even before Covid, especially with such jobs paying only an average of $11.65 an hour.

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