Annual Report on Child Care Shows First Results of Budget Increase

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The National Women’s Law Center has released their new annual report and review on state child care policy, Overdue for Investment. The report found that 33 states improved child care in 2018 compared to 2017 with 19 states backtracking on child care practices.

The report is the first to measure the impact of the FY 2018 $2.37 billion dramatic increase in child care funding provided earlier this year. Congress adopted a historic funding increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant for both fiscal year 2018 and 2019. It has enabled states to begin addressing recent gaps and some of the changes enacted during the CCDBG reauthorization in 2015.

The report measures progress by examining whether or not states increased access through expanded eligibility or an increase in rates for providers which helps with both with the quality of care and the availability care to families.

While finding 33 states advancing eligibility or rates the NWLC report found 19 states were worse off in some respects.

Overall this is the sixth straight year when more states experienced improved status over the number of states experiencing a decrease in status. 15 states set child care eligibility at below 150 percent of poverty (approximately $31,000 per year for a family of three). Nineteen states had wait lists for families wanting but not able to get child care due to the unavailability of subsidies/funding. In 2017 that number was at 20. Wait lists can sometimes be a difficult measure to use since some states simply don’t have lists because they don’t keep track of those families in need.

The report also indicates that co-pays, the share the family have to pay despite getting a subsidy, was at 7.2 percent for families at 100 percent to 150 percent in 30 states. Co-pays can also help stretch limited child care funds to more families depending on if the co-pay policy is balanced.

Adjusted for inflation, 2018 funding for child care from all sources (the CCDBG discretionary funding and funds from TANF and TANF-related child care) equals 10.9 billion compared to an adjusted 11.9 billion in 2001.

States may be reluctant to adjust eligibility and increase rates until they are certain the $2.3 billion provided in 2018 and 2019 becomes permanent. Because the CCDBG uses the same block grant to expand income eligibility, to set rates for providers, and to support the child care workforce, and to eliminate other barriers to access such as waiting periods and co-pays it is a challenge even when state child care systems receive the boost they received this year.

You can read the National Women’s Law Center press release here.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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