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.

BANANA Bites: Help! My Child Has Lice!

We’re back with a new edition of our parenting and early learning column, where we answer YOUR questions! Today’s topic: the dreaded discovery of head lice. Answers below!

Dear BANANA Bites,

I recently discovered that my child’s day care has had an outbreak of lice and it looks like our son, who is 5, now has nits in his hair. I want to make sure we do everything possible to get rid of these pests. What is the best course of action?

– Really Bugged Dad

Dear RBD,

Great question! It can be truly upsetting to discover the signs of lice in our loved ones, but rest assured there are ways to wipe the bugs out.

Step One: There are two types of lice treatments currently on the market: nonprescription (RID, Triple X, Nix and A 200 Pyrinate) and prescription. Discuss their advantages and disadvantages with your pharmacist or physician. Most treatments will require a repeat application seven to ten days after the first application. Read and follow the directions carefully, especially when treating infants, pregnant or nursing women, or people with extensive scratches on their heads or necks. Use of mayonnaise, vaseline or kerosene is not recommended.

Step Two: After using the shampoo, cream, or lotion, the dead nits must be removed from the hair – a truly tedious job that will extend over several days. One effective method is using a metal nit comb available at pharmacies.

Step Three: After treating the people, you should treat the environment. Launder clothing, head gear and bed linens in hot water and dry in a dryer. Non-washable items can be placed in airtight plastic bags and stored for two weeks, which should kill any eggs. Consider how the infestation might be spread – a toy corner with dress-up hats and veils or a favorite storytime rug that everyone likes to lie on. See that these items are either vacuumed well or thrown in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. A treated child may return to school or child care within 24 hours if the nits have been removed. You will need to routinely reinspect the child’s head to make sure s/he has not been reinfested. A good schedule for inspecting your child’s head is to do it on Fridays after school or child care so you can treat the child on the weekend or do it on Monday morning before school or child care so you can keep your child home that day if lice are present.

– BANANA Bites

For more information on this pesky problem, check out our BANANAS handout: Head Lice and visit www.HeadLice.org. If YOU have a question about parenting, running a child care, or early education, please send it to elyce@bananasinc.org.