Special Report
Education

R.I. Adds to Existing Child-Care Subsidies

By Jeff Archer — January 10, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

When Rhode Island set out to improve the way it supports its neediest children, state policymakers decided not to reinvent the wheel.

Rather than construct an entirely new system for preschool-age youngsters, they began by beefing up and adding to the state’s well-established program of child-care subsidies, which gives families vouchers to use in paying for the services that best fit their needs.

The expansion started in 1996, when the legislature first made the assistance an entitlement for any family earning less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level. The move was seen as essential for the success of concurrent efforts by the state to help move people off welfare and into work.

“If you’re eligible, we’ll serve you,” says Reeva Murphy, an official in the state human services department. “We couldn’t even legally have a waiting list.”

Boosting Access and Quality

Gov. Lincoln C. Almond, a Republican, upped the ante significantly in 1998 with a multifaceted initiative called Starting RIght.

The measure set in motion plans to raise income eligibility for the subsidy to 250 percent of the poverty level over the next few years. It also hiked the reimbursement rates for providers that serve parents who use the aid. And it offered state-supported medical coverage to those who provide center- and family-based child care.

The idea behind the initiative was to boost both access and quality.

Since the launch of Starting RIght, the number of children whose parents use the subsidies annually has nearly doubled, to more than 12,000.

Meanwhile, directing additional state support to those who provide child-care services has helped to bolster a workforce traditionally plagued by low wages and high turnover.

“We weren’t just satisfied with having a safe place for kids to be, but we also wanted high-quality services for them,” says Elizabeth Burke Bryant, the executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count, an advocacy group. “And we also recognized that high quality means, above all else, that we are able to pay wages that begin to take care of the people taking care of our children.”

At the same time, Starting RIght also laid the groundwork for expanding the number of providers in the state offering comprehensive services in early-childhood education.

Grants for Networks

Under a new grant project, which is part of Starting Right, Rhode Island is awarding money to networks of providers in local communities.

They are expected to offer programs similar to the federally financed Head Start program, through which participating children receive a wide range of health, nutrition, education, and other school-readiness services.

Last year, the first four networks to receive grants began serving about 200 children. Eligibility is limited to families with incomes below 108 percent of the poverty level.

“There’s tremendous innovation to be looked at in Rhode Island,” says Helen Blank, the director of early-childhood education at the Washington-based Children’s Defense Fund. “They understood that you have to address many parts of the system to make this work, both with parents and with caregivers.”

A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 2002 edition of Education Week

Events

Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Practices & the Construction of the Deep Reading Brain
Join Ryan Lee-James, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, with Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD., Vital Village Community Engagement Network; Neena McConnico, Ph.D, LMHC, Child Witness to Violence Project; and Sondra
Content provided by Rollins Center & Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Addressing Disparities of Black Students with Disabilities
Nearly two years of the pandemic have taken a toll on our nation’s students – especially those in the Black community and who are living with disabilities. But, as they say, in every crisis comes
Content provided by Easterseals

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education U.S. Has Enough COVID-19 Vaccines for Both Kids' Shots and Boosters
Among the challenges states face is not ordering too many doses and letting them go to waste.
4 min read
A healthcare worker receives a second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot at Beaumont Health in Southfield, Mich., Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.
A healthcare worker receives a second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot at Beaumont Health in Southfield, Mich., Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.
Paul Sancya/AP Photo
Education Hundreds of Conn. Bus Drivers Threaten to Walk Off the Job Over Vaccine Mandate
More than 200 school bus drivers could walk off the job in response to a vaccination mandate that goes into effect Monday.
1 min read
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk.
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk. <br/>
Keith Srakocic/AP Photo
Education Briefly Stated: September 22, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)