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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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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Military will pay toward in-home child care for some families in pilot program

By CCAoA on June 16, 2021

Military Times

Child Care Aware of America, the third-party administrator, on July 6 will start contacting parents who have requested in-home care through MilitaryChildCare.com with offers to participate in the pilot, as well as information about how to enroll, according to DoD spokeswoman Lisa Lawrence.

Child Care Aware will oversee the program to verify service member and child care provider eligibility, and provide the fee assistance payments to the approved providers. They will also ensure the providers successfully complete and maintain current background check requirements. Families must find their own child care provider. 

According to the website of Child Care Aware of America, which operates the fee assistance programs for the services, it serves about 10,000 military children a year.

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Guest Opinion: Ensuring early childhood systems work

By Lynette Fraga, Ph.D. on June 08, 2021

Boulder Daily Camera (CO)

By Taran Schneider and Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D.

Colorado has a unique opportunity to support its families and strengthen its economic recovery by taking advantage of recent unprecedented investments in early learning. In the past year, Colorado voters widely supported Proposition EE by a 2-1 margin, which will drive funding to support voluntary universal preschool and, at the same time, historic amounts of federal relief funding have been allocated for child care. With widespread support and increased funding, there is no better time for Colorado to transform the early childhood system into one that takes an innovative and equitable approach in serving families, providers, and children.

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Child care costs $17,000 a year for California parents. Would Biden plan help?

By CCAoA on June 01, 2021

McClatchy DC

Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America, said the tax breaks are “meaningful improvements to ensure families have the resources they need to access child care, and promote the health and well-being of their children.”

But, Cardona said, “They are not a replacement for a direct investment in child care. We will need sustained, robust federal investment to grow an affordable, accessible and equitable child care system that values the work of caregivers and serves all communities.”

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States have never had this much money for child care. Could this be a turning point for the industry?

By CCAoA on May 24, 2021

The 19th

When it was passed in March, President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan included the single largest allocation for child care in the nation’s history: $39 billion. That’s more money than the United States has spent on child care in the past five years combined.

Combined with the billions in child care aid already included in earlier stimulus packages, states and tribes are looking at a degree of funding that could transform child care industries that have been neglected for decades, but they’ll have to do it with small departments and outdated systems. They will also have to focus on reaching people who have never qualified or been helped by child care dollars, a particular challenge that is beyond the scope of what agencies have done in the past. 

“It is more money than the states have ever received for child care — multiples more than they’ve ever received before — and it is a big undertaking, especially if you are thinking about reaching more children, more families, more providers who may not have a relationship with the states at all,” said Mario Cardona, the chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware, a national child care advocacy organization

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Investments in child care facilities are critical to building a more equitable system of care

By Mario Cardona on May 14, 2021

The Hechinger Report

A little more than a month ago, President Biden announced his American Jobs Plan, which includes $25 billion to invest in facilities upgrades in child care settings and to build the supply of infant and toddler care. The plan also includes investments to replace all lead pipes and service lines in drinking water systems to ensure no child is at risk of exposure to lead. When combined with investments in making child care more affordable for families and supporting compensation for the child care workforce, these investments could have a transformative impact on the lives of children, families and providers.

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