Child Care Subsidies: A Solution to End Child Poverty?

The statistics are staggering. Today there are 14.7 million poor children living in the U.S. Sadly, research has shown us just how detrimental poverty is to young children and how dramatically it impacts brain development and lifelong health. The combination of toxic stress, substandard housing, malnutrition, exposure to violence, and family unrest all contribute to long-term cognitive and behavioral difficulties. Matthew Melmed, CEO of Zero To Three notes that “An alarming number of today’s babies—tomorrow’s workforce—are spending their early years in distressed economic circumstances, impacting their health, their families, and their opportunities for learning.”

While these facts are startling, the good news is that we can impact positive change. At BANANAS, we are dedicated to supporting the success of all families, and we know that we can make strides to end child poverty by advocating for changes at the local, state, and federal levels. The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) released a comprehensive report that includes national statistics about child poverty—and a detailed plan on how to combat it. One of the ways to bring children out of poverty is to expand child care subsidies to every eligible child. CDF reports that “Because of limited funding, demand for subsidies far exceeds supply. In fiscal year 2009 only 18 percent of federally eligible children benefited from child care subsidies in an average month.” That means fewer than 1 in 5 eligible children received subsidy support.

CDF explains, “The child care subsidy expansion would reduce child poverty by 3 percent or 300,000 children. Three-quarters of that reduction would come from affordable child care helping 358,000 adults gain employment.”

This is a crucial component of combatting poverty. When parents have to choose between going to work and caring for their children, it not only affects the families, it affects the economy. Many of these families end up requiring federal or state assistance and are unable to attend school to develop professionally or maintain employment to become self-sufficient. With an increase in child care subsidies, these parents would have the opportunity to pursue their goals and provide for their families.

We will continue to advocate for policy changes and are inspired that child poverty has become a recognized critical concern. Families benefit from our Alternative Payment Program (child care subsidies) every day and we see the benefits of it in our hard-working clients. If you want to join in the discussion on how to fight child poverty, stay connected with us on Twitter and Facebook where we’ll be sharing current news on this issue.

Find additional resources on the link between poverty and child development from Talk Poverty, Huffington Post, and Reuters.

Rainy Day Fund

From Executive Director Rich Winefield:

Last month California voters passed Proposition 2, the Rainy Day Fund, by a wide margin. Governor Brown’s initiative represents sound fiscal policy, safeguarding the financial future of our state and improving our credit rating. I voted for Prop 2, but…

Many Californians still suffer from budget cuts made during the recession. Every day at BANANAS we see single mothers in poverty who can’t support their families because they can’t afford child care. Statewide, well over 200,000 poor children below the age of five have lost their child care due to budget cuts, representing many thousands of parents who thus cannot work or who are forced into part-time or split-shift employment. These families face a bleak future. For them, today is that rainy day.

Child care support would not only be good for poor families, it would boost economic development in our state by enabling thousands of people to go to work. Let’s save for an uncertain future, but let’s also provide our fellow Californians with some shelter from the rain they are experiencing today.

piggy

Photo by Philip Brewer

 

Child Care Costs and American Families

Our nation continues to face an uphill battle to ensure that all families have access to affordable child care. Today Child Care Aware released its 2014 report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, a text that reveals the disparity between the cost of child care and the median income of American families.

A few key findings in the report include:

  • Child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) in a child care center exceed annual median rent payments in every state.
  • Families spend twice as much on child care costs than they do on food.
  • Center-based child care costs for an infant are higher than in-state tuition at universities in 30 states and Washington, DC.

When families are unable to pay for the child care they need, the result is often employee absences and lost wages, which in turn can spiral into unemployment and poverty. The Child Care Aware report, in fact, states that businesses have lost $3 billion to employee absences due to lack of child care options. At BANANAS, we work with families every day who struggle to cover the cost of child care and we are striving to find solutions at the local, state, and federal levels. As a community dedicated to families and child care professionals, we hope to see child care kept at the forefront of legislation so that over time everyone will have access to affordable child care.

For more information about the Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report, click here.