May 5, 2010
Report shows less than 20 percent of eligible families receive assistance
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) issued the following comments in response to the release of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the availability of child care assistance for low-income families. Rep. McDermott, along with Reps. Sander Levin (D-MI), Charles Rangel (D-NY), and Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and John Kerry (D-MA), requested the report in an effort to better understand and account for the declining numbers of eligible families receiving child care support subsidies. The GAO report revealed that the number of families receiving assistance declined 10 percent between FY 2006 and FY 2008. To view the full report, click here.
“The findings in this report show us that we need to do a better job of ensuring low-income families have access to critical child care assistance,” Rep. McDermott said. “At a time when so many Americans are struggling to find work, it is more important than ever that a lack of adequate and affordable child care isn’t an additional barrier. Research shows that quality child care has the greatest positive impact on children in low-income families, yet these families are much more likely to be forced to cobble together an irregular patchwork of child care arrangements. While the Recovery Act took a step in the right direction by providing additional investments for child care assistance, the economy is still struggling to get back on its feet, and the stress placed on families makes access to quality child care increasingly important for the healthy development of children.”
Below are key highlights from the GAO report, titled Child Care: Multiple Factors Could Have Contributed to the Recent Decline in the Number of Children Whose Families Receive Subsidies. The report found:
The number of children served by the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) has decreased in recent years. Between FY 2006 and FY 2008, the average monthly number of children and families served by the program declined by 10 percent, or about 170,000 children.
Fewer than 20 percent of children who are potentially eligible to receive child care subsidies through CCDF or other federal programs received assistance in FY 2006.
Multiple factors have potentially reduced the number of children served through CCDF, including:
State decisions that affect the allocation of resources dedicated to child care subsidies (i.e., the availability of TANF and Social Service Block Grant funds that are reallocated to support additional spending on child care services);
Reductions in the number of child care providers that serve these families (i.e., increased State requirements for providers and decreased demand for child care due to high unemployment); and
Economic factors that may affect parents’ ability to meet the work-related eligibility requirements for these subsidies (i.e., a reduction in a parent’s work hours may make them ineligible for assistance).
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed last year made a number of critical investments for child care services. It provided $2 billion in discretionary funds for child care assistance for FY 2009 and FY 2010 and also provided up to $5 billion in a TANF Emergency Contingency Fund which States can use to provide child care assistance to low-income families.