Access to quality child care is important for the well-being of parents, children, and our communities. The National Women’s Law Center released a new report entitled Persistent Gaps: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2017  that compares how states encourage or impede access to affordable, quality child care for working families.
The good news in Arizona is that the co-payment amount that families are required to pay dropped significantly. For a family of three earning $30,000 per year, for example, the co-payment dropped by an average of $87 per month. In addition, while Arizona still has a waiting list, administrative changes were made that allow families on the wait list to receive assistance much more quickly.
Despite this good news, Arizona still has the most out of date child care assistance rates in the country, paying at a rate based on what child care cost back in the year 2000. This payment rate is significantly out of compliance with the federal requirements to participate in this program, in some cases by as much as 43%. This problem puts children at risk because many low income parents can’t afford to pay the difference between the state reimbursement and the cost of care. Unless Arizona closes this gap, the result could be a loss of federal funding leaving many more of the most vulnerable children without reliable and safe child care.