According to a report released today by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), Voices for America’s Children and Every Child Matters Education Fund, at least 42 states have cut programs affecting America’s children as a result of the recession. The report entitled, State Budget Cuts: America’s Kids Pay the Price, lists state-by-state the cuts to programs affecting children including cuts to public health, programs for children with disabilities, K-12 and early education (such as child care), and higher education.
“Although children did not cause the recession, this report clearly demonstrates that children are feeling the effects of it,” said Linda K. Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. “Children are our most vulnerable citizens, yet states have cut some of the most basic services and programs needed to ensure their healthy development and well being. As President Obama’s next budget is drafted and the FY2011 budget is debated in Congress, it is essential that we make investments in children’s programs a priority to ensure that children’s programs and services are not gutted as a result of the recession.”
To help protect children’s interests, while boosting the economy at the same time, NACCRRA suggests that the federal government look to expand some programs that will create new jobs while providing long-term benefits for children and the economy. One such program NACCRRA recommends expanding is child care assistance.
“Parents of young children cannot work without child care,” said Smith. As the economy starts to recover, parents need help affording child care in order to get and keep a job. What we are seeing is that parents are shifting their children from organized programs to more informal arrangements as they try to make ends meet in this tough economy. And, that’s for parents who aren’t regularly considered as low income.”
“Informal care may be fine,” continued Smith. “On the other hand, we just don’t know. There are no background checks on providers, no health and safety standards, no developmental activities, just the television in many cases. Hopefully, children are safe, but child care assistance could really make a difference for these families.”
“For low- income families, who in less dire times would have qualified for a child care subsidy, states are reducing eligibility for child care assistance and creating waiting lists. But, it is children who will pay in the long term. It’s just not right. And it is inconsistent with the general remarks of many policymakers who say they want more children to enter school ready to succeed. If that’s the goal, then families need access to quality child care. The TV on all day is no substitute for quality care that promotes healthy development,” added Smith.
The State Budget Cuts: America’s Kids Pay the Price report was developed through a survey of Child Care Resource and Referral agencies throughout the country who reported on budget cuts within their states affecting families with children. The stories throughout the report came from families who are members of NACCRRA’s Child Care Aware® Parent Network, members of Every Child Matters, and members of Voices for America’s Children. To download a full copy, please visit the Economic Stimulus Briefing Room.