How Does Arizona Grade in Child Care Assistance?
Just as some low income working families in Arizona are beginning to benefit from the small increase in funding to Child Care Assistance, a new report shows that we still have a long way to go. Last week, the National Women’s Law Center released its annual report on the impact of state child care policies entitled Turning the Corner: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2014. The report examines how five critical factors such as reimbursement rates and waiting lists, influence the access, affordability and quality of child care in all 50 states.
Here in Arizona, freeing up $4 million in funding for child care enabled the state to open up the waiting list for the first time since 2011. Unfortunately, there are still thousands of families who qualify for services but who aren’t receiving them. And Arizona is only one of two states still paying child care centers and homes at the year 2000 market rates, ranking us dead last in the nation. 27 states currently pay rates from 2010 or after. For a one year old child in a child care center, this means that the center is currently receiving approximately 47% lower than the market rate in the community. This gap ties us with Michigan for the worst in the country.
So, more work lies ahead to advocate for restoration of funding for child care assistance and taking a critical look at our state policies that shape early education for so many children in Arizona.