Points of View

How Other States are Improving Child Care

Sam Stebbins

Child care is one of the major barriers to gaining or maintaining employment for adults in West Michigan. Child care can cost more than college tuition annually, which can force parents living under the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed)  threshold to leave the workforce entirely. At the same time, many childcare workers and providers are leaving the industry, resulting in childcare deserts. Finally, research shows that it is important to have access to high-quality child care that prepares children to enter school before they reach kindergarten.

 

Thankfully, both government and non-profit programs in other states have begun to address this issue in ways that could be replicated or modeled in Michigan.

 

Shared Services

Several states have programs that provide shared services for childcare providers.

One of these programs is Colorado’s Early Learning Ventures (ELV). ELV is a not-for-profit that provides tools and resources in business operations for childcare providers. After paying a fee, childcare providers can access web-based record keeping, compliance management, and financial services systems. This is incredibly helpful to providers and workers, who may then focus on caring for children and spend less time on complicated regulations.

 

Educating Parents and Childcare Workers

High-quality child care is early childhood education because children learn from all of their interactions beginning at birth. For this reason, it is important that childcare providers and workers are educated and that parents know how to choose the best provider for their young children.

 

North Carolina has several programs in place to educate both parents and workers. The Child Care Resources and Referral System consists of 14 hubs that educate parents on the availability and quality of providers near their homes or workplaces. On the other hand, North Carolina’s WAGES program promotes increased education among childcare workers through salary supplement incentives, and TEACH provides scholarships to pay for coursework.

 

The Mississippi Building Blocks program hires coaches in business, quality, and curriculum to assist childcare providers. The goal of this program is to improve classroom quality to better prepare children for school.

 

Increasing Funding

Because child care is often unaffordable, several states have increased funding and created programs to offer scholarships to parents.

 

Minnesota’s Close Gaps by 5 is one such program that offers scholarship resources for infants and toddlers in addition to a quality rating improvement system for childcare providers. This system targets children from ages 0-5 and serves low-income and at-risk kids first. Today, the scholarship program has been adopted by Minnesota’s Department of Education.

 

These are just a handful of the programs and systems in place in other states to alleviate the complicated issues facing child care. For more information about this barrier to entering or staying in the workforce in Michigan, read our one-pager