Strengthening Welfare to Work with Child Care: Congress Hears Testimony on the Importance of Child Care for
Working Families

The federal role for child care policy and funding is crucial, and so we tuned in with great interest on March 6, when the U.S. House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing— “Strengthening Welfare to Work with Child Care”.

Witness testimony works differently at the federal level than it does in the Maryland General Assembly. Here in Maryland, did you know that anyone can submit written testimony and sign up to speak at a hearing? The Resource Center represents our community in this way each year in Annapolis! But at the federal level, witnesses are selected by the legislators on the Committee and all of that is set up in advance.

In this case, there were four witnesses. These leaders in early childhood education and workforce development shared their experience and expertise on the supports working families need to enable self-sufficiency which includes access to affordable, high-quality child care while working.

Witness testimony stressed that families’ access to child care means access to quality child care based on research that high-quality care focused on promoting a child’s growth and development helps put children on the path of success in school and throughout their lives. Witness testimony stressed that families require cohesive supports that enable them to be able to find and retain employment and/or pursue education and training opportunities for long-term self-sufficiency.

Here are some of our favorite points from witness testimony, which we think reflect our community’s experience as well:

• “If we believe the brain science, if we want to break the cycles of intergenerational poverty, then we have to focus on making sure child care is child development, and not just a safe place for children to go while their parents are at work.” – Helen Stebbins, Deputy Director of Alliance for Early Success

• “The [proposed increase in] Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding over two years … amounts to $2.9 billion each year … represents the largest increase in federal child care funding in history and is an essential step towards the fulfillment in which all children have equitable access to high-quality, developmentally appropriate early learning delivered by diverse, effective educators and leaders working within a compensation and recognition system that supports their excellence.” -Tammy Mann, Ph.D., President of the Governing Board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and President and CEO of the Campagna Center, VA

• “Louisiana State University’s Public Policy Research Lab conducted a statewide survey in which half of both men and women stated they missed work regularly due to child care issues. Respondents were terminated, quit jobs, refused promotions, or chose part-time over full-time work due to child care concerns. Louisiana employers annually lose $816 million due to child care issues that create absences and employee turnover.” – Bridgette Nieland, Vice President of Education and Workforce Development for the Louisiana Association for Business and Development

• “A key lesson learned is that the plan to help our children cannot be disconnected from the plan to help their parents. Our early evidence shows that a family approach can produce transformational results for our children and our parents. I appreciate your ongoing support of this two-generational strategy that helps adults work and promotes young children’s development.” –Dr. Laurie Smith, Senior Policy Advisor, Education and Workforce Development, Office of Governor Phil Bryant, MS and Executive Director of the State Early Childhood Advisory Council

Read the full hearing testimonies here.

We know that the helping families and children are a package deal. When the family is supported, so are the children. We will continue to advocate for the supports, including high-quality child care, that families need in order to work and take care of their families.

The Resource Center – and many of you! – have been advocating for investments in CCDBG. We also support the newly proposed Child Care Working Family Act. This act will help families paying for child care on a sliding scale regardless of number of children, double the number of children eligible for child care assistance and improve training and pay for the early education workforce.

Posted on 3/29/18