Ensuring working families and their children have access to safe, affordable and high-quality child care
Working families need access to high-quality, affordable child care that meets their children’s developmental needs; however the high-cost of care creates a barrier to access for many families. While the federal government provides supports to families to help defray the cost of care, both through the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), these supports are not sufficient to meet the needs of all the families they are designed to serve. Fewer than 1 in 4 eligible children under 5 benefit from CCDBG and the non-refundable CDCTC provides no benefit to the families that most need help and minimal support to middle-income families who still struggle to pay for quality care. Additionally, a well-trained and competitively compensated workforce is necessary to provide the quality of care children and parents deserve, but child care workers are paid less than parking lot attendants in 30 states. CDF is committed to working with our partners to ensure that all children have access to affordable, high-quality child care that supports their early development and their parents’ abilities to work.
Promoting access to high-quality preschool opportunities for low-income 3-and 4-year-olds and others with special needs.
High-quality preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds improve school readiness and facilitate a range of positive outcomes in both school and life. These programs are especially beneficial for low-income children and other vulnerable children, including those who are homeless, in foster care, are learning English as a second language, or have disabilities. Unfortunately, access to preschool is often determined by parental income, and the lottery of geography and quality varies widely. While some states, such as Oklahoma, New Jersey, and Georgia have prioritized access to high-quality preschool, many other states serve fewer children with weaker quality standards. CDF is committed to working to ensure all children, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have access to quality preschool programs that prepare them for school and life.
Ensuring that children receive the opportunity to attend full-day kindergarten before entering first grade.
Full-day kindergarten boosts children’s cognitive learning, creative problem solving, and social competence, and helps sustain gains made in early childhood programs. Access to full-day kindergarten is not guaranteed for all 5-year-old children in the country. Only 11 states and D.C. require that their districts offer full-day kindergarten and five do not require any offering of kindergarten at all. In poor economic times, these programs not protected by statute can be targeted by districts for cuts to save money, particularly in states that do not fund full-day kindergarten at the same level as first grade. As momentum for investments in young children continues to build across the country; states and districts must ensure that they have full-day kindergarten in statute as part of their quality continuum of early childhood services so children do not miss the critical step between preschool and first grade.