'Crisis level': Child care providers grapple with a worker shortage as federal relief is slow to help

By CCAoA on October 10, 2021

USA Today

State administrators are trying to balance the need to act quickly while also making wise investments in using the COVID relief dollars, said Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice of advocacy group Child Care Aware of America.

"A lot of these systems are not built to serve as many as we're hoping to serve," he said, noting the child care sector saw declines in the workforce before the pandemic. "There are systemic issues that have long linked childcare in the form of poor compensation, inadequate or non-existent benefits. And at times, unsteady availability of work." 

Some classrooms have empty seats that providers are unable to fill because they don't have sufficient staff to meet the demand, Cardona said. 

"I don't think that we can ask providers to do any more than what they're currently doing," he said. "It's really an area that's going to require increased levels of investment from the government. And so right now states are in a position to help leverage some of the funding that they received through the different relief packages."

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Biden's child, elder care proposals come with a hefty price tag. But can they transform the industry?

By CCAoA on September 30, 2021

USA Today

Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America, also points to economic reverberations later in life. Mothers who are forced to work part-time or leave their jobs entirely to care for their children aren't able to put more money into their 401(k) plan or other mechanisms that exist to support retirement.  

 

An average woman with two children could see an increase in lifetime earning of $97,000 with access to affordable child care, according a report from Columbia University and the National Women's Law Center released earlier this year. About 1.3 million women in the U.S. could see a collective $130 billion boost in incomes over their lifetimes.  

 

"By not providing affordable, accessible high-quality child care for folks to take advantage of, it hurts decades later when they're looking at retirement because they weren't able to save as much as they could have potentially by being engaged in the labor force," he said. 

 

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Can the U.S. create universal pre-K without repeating past mistakes?

By CCAoA on September 30, 2021

The 19th

“The reality is if we can get this done, we are still going to have to work with states,” said Anne Hedgepeth, the senior director of federal and state government affairs at Child Care Aware of America, a child care advocacy group. “That’s where we can really also create the guardrails needed to make sure that no particular kind of early learning setting or age group faces unintended consequences as a result of what could be a tremendous influx of long-needed resources.” 

 

The pandemic has also already created something of a roadmap. Earlier this year, states got an unprecedented $39 billion to spend on improving their child care systems — the largest boost in child care funding to date.  

 

In the months since, states have started to work through where they would put those funds, building up better lists of where child care providers are located, what the needs are and how to reach them. 

 

“Even though there are gaps for sure … it does tell us there is some real ability for state-led agencies to adapt and to make this happen,” Hedgepeth said. 

 

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Families struggle to afford childcare

By CCAoA on September 29, 2021

CBS Evening News

CCAoA CEO Lynette Fraga spoke with CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Nancy Cordes about the current state of child care and how the federal funding proposal will help parents.

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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.

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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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