What Happened to Investing in Our Future?

October 31, 2012
by Carlos San Miguel, RESULTS U.S. Poverty Intern

Economists would say that investing in a strong and modern infrastructure leads to greater economic prosperity for years to come. What does that have to do with child care? We have not used basic investment principles of building a strong base when it comes to the education and care of our children. Over the past decade the investment into our children across the board has not kept up with the needs of the current generation. We have failed to rally our Congressional leaders in providing the funds and programs desperately needed in early childhood care. The numbers are startling when it comes to how the United States has been regressing, instead of progressing on childhood development. The National Women’s Law Center has created a report to chronicle the decline in child care assistance policies throughout all fifty states.

Full-time child care is very expensive in the United States where the cost to provide care ranges from $3,900 to $15,000 a year depending on the age of the child. These costs for raising a child have increased exponentially and have far out-stripped inflation. According the report families in 27 states were worse off in 2012 than they were in 2011. In over 20 states in 2012, depending on income, families paid more money in copayments than in 2001. In a decade the cost a working parent needed to contribute went up, causing additional less discretionary income for families living at the poverty line. Another issue was those families that are on the waiting list for help increased in 2012 from 2011 levels. Only seven states are expected to reduce their waiting lists by enrolling more children into a program. While most states are in economic recovery their spending in childcare is down in 2012.

Most of the funding for childcare comes from the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which was down adjusted for inflation in 2012 from previous years funding. The overall funding shortfall from 2009-2010 is almost $1 billion for the fiscal year of 2012. Overall funding between all sources of government assistance including individual state funding is down across the board over the last decade. When adjusting for inflation the funds available in 2001 was $10.594 billion versus 2012 funding of $8.218. That is a funding short-fall of over $2.3 billion, which means less families have access the child care they need for their children.

It is vital that we lobby our individual Congressional leaders to act on increasing funding to the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and other state and national programs aimed to help the neediest families in America. There is no reason that funding should have dropped over the last decade. It is critical that our countries leadership knows that this is unacceptable. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) provides help to 1.7 million children. In addition to those, the government backed programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start, needs to have their funding increased in order to provide more relief to American families.

Please review The National Women’s Law Center report on the funding short-fall currently occurring. And, help us Put Child Care on the Map to ensure every member of Congress hears about child care this year.

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