While most states continue to broaden their child-care assistance policies to serve more families, others are moving backward, according to an Oct. 27 report by the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group focused on public-policy issues.
Noting that federal funding for child-assistance programs has decreased since 2001, the report focuses on what states are doing in the early-childhood realm. It finds, for instance, that a family with an income equal to at least 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($40,180 a year for a family of three) could not qualify for care in 39 states. That’s insufficient, the report says, since research shows that families in most communities need to earn at least 200 percent of the poverty level to meet basic needs like housing, food, and health care.
And, while 46 states have increased those levels since 2001, only 10 have increased their levels by enough to change who is eligible as a percentage of the poverty level. Despite the issues, families’ access to child-care assistance and/or the extent of the assistance offered increased in nearly two-thirds of states between 2014 and 2015. That is cause for optimism, though not complacency, among advocates, the report concludes.
A version of this article appeared in the November 11, 2015 edition of Education Week as Early Childhood