Child Care

Resolution Submitted to the

American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences

WHEREAS, 13 million preschoolers, including six million infants and toddlers, are in child care,

WHEREAS, 64 percent of mothers with children under the age of six, and 78 percent of mothers with children ages six to 13 are in the labor force,

WHEREAS, a 1999 University of North Carolina study found that children in high quality child care demonstrated greater mathematical ability, greater thinking and attention skills, and fewer behavioral problems that children in lower quality care,

WHEREAS, nearly five million children are home along after school each week, especially during the afternoon hours when juvenile crime peaks,

WHEREAS, a recent Health and Human Services report indicates that only 12 percent of the 15 million children whose families qualify for child care assistance received it in 1999, and

WHEREAS, research indicates that childcare subsidies are linked to increased employment rates of mothers of young children, but there is very little evidence of the effect of child care subsidies on child development outcomes,


AAFCS support programs, services and policies at all levels of government and through employers to expand the supply of affordable, quality child-care for all who need it, in order to increase access to employment and to prevent and reduce poverty; AND THAT

AAFCS members help increase the availability of affordable, quality care for pre-school and school-age children and children with special needs by serving as catalysts in their communities and contributing directly in the design and management of care options, care giver training and support with educational resources, parent outreach and education about care options and assistance, AND THAT

AAFCS serve as a conduit for linking policy makers, parents and care-givers to research, teaching resources, care center designs, child health and nutrition resources and other resources for improved policy development and care delivery at sustainable, affordable rates.

Child-care is not a new issue. The Boston Infant's School opened in the 1820's. But, child-care became a public issue when World War II took many mothers into defense industry jobs. In 1943, the Lanham Act provided funds for centers for their children. Of the 3000 centers opened, 2800 were closed at the end of the war as most women returned to the home.

Since the latter part of the 1960's the need for accessible, quality, affordable child care has accelerated due to rising divorce rates, more children born to single parents, and more families needing two incomes to meet family economic needs. Policy focus shifted to child-care and early education subsidies as part of government efforts to increase economic independence and improve the development of children in low-income families. A recent National Bureau of Economic Research report notes there are tradeoffs between policies that are designed to achieve either of these goals independently. Evidence indicates that child-care subsidies are linked to increased employment rates of mothers of young children, while there is very little evidence of the effect of child-care subsidies on child development outcomes. (Balu, 2000)

Furthermore, a recent Health and Human Services report indicates that only 12 percent of the 15 million children whose families qualify for child-care assistance received assistance in 1999. (Kharfen, 2000) One factor is that less than 50% of the families leaving welfare for work who participated in a Center for Law and Social Policy study in 1999 were receiving child care assistance. In most sites, 30% or less received assistance. Most were unaware of the availability of child- care subsidies. Families tend to rely on friends or relatives for child-care. Those who use subsidies are more likely to rely on child care centers. (Schumacher and Greenberg, 99)

The issue is complex and emotionally sensitive because it concerns beliefs, values, behaviors and expectations of individuals, families, communities and society.

Three basic perspectives on child-care prevail.

  1. Government should support a traditional mothering role for women. Child-care subsidies are perceived to undermine the family by encouraging mothers to enter the labor force. The goal of public policy should be to reduce the financial burden on families and to make it possible for one parent to stay home to rear young children.
  2. Government has a clear role in day care, but only for children who are at risk. Early childhood programs for children from poor families are in the public interest because they lead to greater success in school and a more effective labor market. These programs are viewed as a social investment for breaking the cycle of poverty.
  3. Government should play an important role in guaranteeing that all families with young children have access to affordable, high-quality child care. Needs of working parents and their children require adequate care arrangements to meet all types of family and child needs while providing care givers adequate compensation for their critical services. (Todd, C. and Ashton, A., 2001)

The issue is also driven by decisions made in multiple federal, state and local agencies. A major void in the development of policy is parent input. Representative George Miller (D-Calif.) spent eight years getting the "Caring for Children Act" passed, which focused on targeted tax cuts, sops for care provider businesses and more stringent regulation of the child-care industry. He noted that most of the legislation "would be a boon to businesses and bureaucrats rather than children." The main reason for this focus was, "There wasn't a parents' movement. There is no public demand for a federal child-care plan from parents." In fact, staff from the Department of Health and Human Services noted that 96 percent of parents nationwide were satisfied with their current child-care arrangements. More than nine out of ten said they would be willing to pay more money for their current arrangements. (Olson, 1998) Thus, politicians believe that cutting parents' taxes is the best way to help parents using child-care. "Moving 29 million middle-class tax payers from the 28 percent federal income tax bracket to the 15 percent bracket, on average would cut their taxes $1,200 per year to purchase better child-care or spend more time with their children." (Olsen, 1998)

A new opportunity for family involvement in child-care policy development has emerged with the formation of a Congressional Child Care Caucus announced in March 2001. Co-sponsors of the initiative include Representatives Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rosa L.DeLauro, (D-CT), Connie Morella, (R-MD), and Benjamin Gilman (R-NY). A preliminary list of initiatives to be addressed by this caucus include:

  • Increasing Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding to $1 billion;
  • Increasing mandatory CCDBG funding to families earning 85% of their state's median income;
  • Expanding of the Child Tax Credit to $1,000 and making this credit refundable to families without federal tax liability;
  • Increasing child care payment rates to reflect real market trends;
  • Developing the child care workforce through stipends to individuals based on education levels, a child care provider scholarship fund, and student loan forgiveness;
  • Authorizing capital construction funds for child care facilities;
  • Examining tax cut incentives for businesses that provide child care services; and
  • Researching other successful child-care models.

Members of the American Association for Family and Consumer Sciences are a source of research, education, and public policy analysis for families and policy makers seeking functional, affordable solutions that assure the safety and development of children. Family and consumer sciences professionals across the nation can also be the link for family input into this policy initiative.

Blau, D.M., Child Care Subsidy Programs, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. W7806, July 2000.

Kharfen, M. "New Statistics How Only Small Percentage of Eligible Families Receive Child Care Help," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Press Release, Dec, 2000.

National Center for Education Statistics. (October 1996). Child-Care and Early Education Program Participation of Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers. Washington, DC; NCES.

Olson, D., "Federal Child Care Plans: Solutions in Search of a Problem, Cato Institute, March, 1998.

Peisner-Feinberg, et al. (1999). The Children of the Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Study Go To School: Executive Summary. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina.

Schumacher, R. and Greenberg, M., "Child Care After Leaving Welfare:; Early Evidence from State Studies," Washington, D.C.: Center for Law and Social Policy, Oct, 1999.

Snyder, H., and Sickmund, M. (1999). Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs.

Todd, C. and Ashton, A., "Three Perspectives on Child Care Public Policy," University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, March, 2001.

Unpublished data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1999) Marital and Family Characteristics of the Labor Force from the March 1999 Current Population Survey. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor.

Impact Statement
Public policy advocacy for quality, affordable child-care at the federal, state, and local levels is directly related to the mission of the Association and the profession and will have little or no impact on the budget or other resources of the organization, because:

A) The coordination, planning and strategies to implement the resolution are integral to the work of the affiliates, the appropriate sections and divisions, the Public Policy Committee, and headquarters staff;

B) Distribution of this resolution and any other related materials to AAFCS members and other affiliated organizations would be through existing channels, including the website;

C) Passage of the resolution does not require the hiring of additional staff at AAFCS headquarters; and

D) Funds to support any new state or national program (research, demonstration, or others) would need to be approved through existing channels and sought from external sources.

Suggested Implementation Strategies
Develop a concise, articulate policy statement that reinforces the mission of AAFCS and incorporates the support of affordable, quality child-care availability in every community in the nation. Distribute this policy statement through existing communications mechanisms, such as:

a. The Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences: From Research to Practice;
b. Messages to affiliates and other Association leaders;
c. Meetings with the Child Care Now coalition; and
d. Newsletters to institutional members of the Higher Education Unit.
e. Use available resources to involve families, caregivers, employers, policymakers, AAFCS affiliate members and other professionals concerned about childcare.
f. Provide leadership for community, state, and national childcare policy workshops and advocacy.

Other initiatives to reinforce this support include:

a. Continue support of quality, affordable child-care issues as a public policy priority for the Association; and
b. Reiterate the Association's position with supporting data and research to Members of Congress, the Administration, state governments, and local policy-makers.
c. Add tools developed for workshops and other policy sessions available for a fee on the policy portion of the website.

Policy Policy Priority for Child Care

Throughout the United States, quality child care is accessible and affordable and that the wages and professional development opportunities are enhanced.

The Issue
Child care is a part of the daily lives of millions of American families.

  • In 1998, two out of three (65 percent) women with children younger than six and three-quarters (78 percent) of women with children ages six to 17, were in the labor force.
  • Child care is critical to worker productivity. A lack of reliable child care can cause workers to lose time and be less productive at work.
  • Child care and early childhood education providers make a sizable contribution to the economy as small business owners. In 1997, the receipts of taxable child care providers totaled $12.8 billion, up from $5.4 billion in 1988.
  • Each day, an estimated 13 million children under age six - including children with mothers who work outside the home and those with mothers who do not - spend some or all of their day being cared for by someone other than their parents.
  • The early childhood years are particularly important to children's development and future success. The quality of the child's environment and social experience has a decisive, long-last impact on their well-being and ability to learn.
  • A 1999 study found that low-income children who received comprehensive, quality early educational intervention had higher scores on cognitive, reading, and math tests than a comparison group who did not participate in an intervention.
  • Women's financial contribution accounts for most of the increase in the median income of married couples with children between 1969 and 1996. Without the earnings of the wives, the earnings of these families would have increased by only two percent over the period, rather than 25 percent.
  • A study of the quality of child care centers found that one in eight centers provided less than minimal quality care.

SOURCE: 1999 Key Facts. Overview of Child Care, Early Education, and School-Age Care. Children's Defense Fund.

AAFCS Response
Nationally As a member of the Children's Defense Fund Child Care Now coalition, promote legislation that invests in child care to assist parents working at home or out of the home; improve the quality of child care available; promote greater business investment in child; prepare children to enter school ready to learn; and to expand after-school activities for children.

Affiliates Join established coalitions and partnerships in local communities or build partnerships from the diverse network of child care advocacy groups. Work with state legislation that promotes areas of focus nationally.

Community Work with businesses to offer child care options that support employees. Work with local decision-makers to promote legislation that assists parents and improves the quality of care available.

Related Resolutions
Public Policy Advocacy for Quality Affordable Child Care, 1997; Youth at Risk, 1989; Children in Self-Care and School-Age Child Care, 1988; Child and Family Services Legislation, 1975; Child Care and Parent Education, 1973.