New Child Care Solutions to Support Working Families

By: Brenda Destro, Acting Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (HSP) and Shannon Christian, Director of the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families

Consistent with President Trump’s Executive Order on Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility, HHS’s Strategic Plan sets goals for HHS to encourage self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, eliminate barriers to economic opportunity, and to prepare children and youth for healthy, productive lives. This blog is part of the Self-Sufficiency Series: Solutions from the Field, which profiles local programs from across the country finding solutions to accomplish these goals.

Any parent will tell you – finding affordable child care so they can pursue training or education to get and keep any job isn’t easy.

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), administered by HHS, provides funding to states, territories, and tribes to subsidize the cost of child care for low-income working families and expand the child care options available to them. Recent HHS research shows that CCDF helps parents work, increasing employment and labor force participation among low-income mothers. These supports for working families are in line not only with HHS’ strategic goals but also with President Trump’s recent Executive Order on Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.

While child care subsidies significantly ease the financial burden of child care and incentivize work, there are so many other ways that states can support parents as they work toward family self-sufficiency.

The 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act includes a number of new family-friendly subsidy policies, such as supporting job search and gradually phasing out child care subsidies to avoid cliff effects, to help parents find work, stay employed, and increase work hours and wages without losing child care. The law also calls on states to increase the supply of child care for families who might have trouble finding care, including those in underserved areas and those who need care outside traditional working hours. We’re excited about the innovative approaches states are taking to promote work as they implement these new requirements.

Local programs and child care providers can also support parent work and education. For example, one of our new federal Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth (P3) sites in City of New York - PDF works with low-income parents ages 17-24 and their children to improve both family and child outcomes. The program uses federal funding from both CCDF and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to pair guaranteed child care with education and occupational training to improve parents’ work readiness, earning potential, and access to multiple career pathways. In addition to career development, parents are offered early learning workshops that engage parents in their child’s development.

Evaluation of this promising model is underway, and we are excited to learn how pairing child care with work support in this context will influence family self-sufficiency and well-being – important goals for HHS.

It is encouraging to see many other integrated efforts - PDF to foster both child development and family economic security. If you’re a child care administrator or provider, are you partnering across programs to connect families to workforce opportunities? Here at HHS, we’re committed to working across all our programs to help families work and achieve economic stability, and we’d love to hear from you.

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