State Child Care Assistance Policies 2009: Most States Hold the Line, But Some Lose Ground in Hard Times

Source: Karen Schulman, Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center, September 2009

A study released today by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) of child care policies in 50 states and the District of Columbia reveals that between February of 2008 and February of 2009 more states made cuts than made improvements in desperately needed child care assistance, worsening an already bleak landscape for parents trying to afford reliable child care.

The study also provides a preliminary look at the response of states since February 2009 to both worsening state budget deficits and the availability of new child care funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Since February 2009, some states are proposing to or have cut their child care assistance programs but other states have used ARRA funds to maintain or expand their programs.

The study found that between February 2008 and February 2009 a majority of states did not make changes in their key child care assistance policies. However, of those states that did make changes, more moved backward than forward — reducing reimbursement rates, limiting eligibility, placing more children and families on waiting lists or increasing parent co-payments. Moveover, most states did not advance or fell further behind in one or more policy areas since 2001.

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