In recent decades, policymakers have increasingly focused on the importance of high-quality child care and early education services in supporting the development of low-income children. Though highquality early care and education (ECE) can exist in any setting—including child care centers, family child care programs, and other home-based care arrangements—the emphasis on high-quality ECE services has often translated into a singular focus on investing public funds in formal settings, especially centerbased programs.
This report explores the implications of this trend in the context of the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), also known as the Child Care and Development Fund. It focuses on four priority populations: families with parents working nontraditional schedules, families with infants and toddlers, families living in rural areas, and families with children with disabilities and special needs. It concludes with a discussion of state policy strategies to better address the child care needs of these families.
Our goal in this report is twofold: First, to help policymakers and other policy stakeholders understand how current policy strategies and trends toward center-based care may be inadvertently challenging the ability of vulnerable groups of families to access subsidies and take advantage of public investments in child care quality. And second, to contribute to informed and strategic policy efforts to increase access to and the supply of high-quality care for all children across the spectrum of child care settings. (Edited author executive summary)