(Washington, D.C.) Forty-six states fail to pay the federally recommended level to child care centers providing infant care, according to a new state-by-state report by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). The analysis is based on data from February 2017. Some low-income parents receive subsidies from their state to help pay for child care. And each state determines the maximum amount of the subsidy that will be paid to the child care providers. Federal regulations recommend that these payment rates be set at the 75th percentile of current market rates for a given category of care. This rate is designed to give families access to 75 percent of the providers in their community. But only four states—Arkansas, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia—pay rates for center infant care that are at or above the federally recommended level.
The following is a statement by Helen Blank, NWLC Director of Child Care and Early Learning:
“There’s no excuse for dismal policies that shortchange child care providers and hurt low- and moderate-income parents and their infants across the country. Low payment rates make it tough for providers to attract and retain highly qualified staff—and force some to go out of business. Parents often aren’t able to close the gap between the limited financial assistance they get and the high cost of child care—leaving them with few, if any, child care options for their young children. And this means that too many children are losing opportunities essential to their healthy early development. The federal government and states must significantly increase their investments in our child care system so that it works for parents and children.”
The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women. For more information on the Center, visit: www.nwlc.org.