Child Care Study Committee

The Child Care Study Committee was formed three years ago to review and update the Child Care Position in the LWV CVA 2017-18 Local Positions which reads:

Action: Support of community based efforts to improve the quality and affordability of and accessibility to child care in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. To advocate for: 1) increased business and local government support for child care and 2) improved information for parents and the community at large regarding available child care and the quality and performance of child care providers. [2001]

On January 22, 2018, the following study update draft was submitted:

RESULTS OF A CHILD CARE STUDY – IMMEDIATE CHANGES NEEDED
No, it doesn’t tell the whole story, but it may nudge readers to move on!

The study which focuses on a single parent earning less than $2,166 a month was conducted by the League of Women Voters of the Charlotteville Area with help from Health and Human Services of Albemarle County and the directors of the twelve Licensed Child Care Centers with whom we spoke. This assessment is an update of one conducted by the Charlottesville League three years ago. The results are clear: there is an immediate need for major changes in the Commonwealth’s handling of child care.

Issue I: How a $10 PER MONTH salary increase can cause the loss of a single parent’s child care subsidy.
As you will see in Copy of Child Care – Schedule A (00000002), when a single parent with one child receives a $10 raise from $2,160 to $2,170 a month, her net cash drops from $1,203 per month to $459. Monthly income of $2170 exceeds $2,166, the maximum a single parent with one child can earn without losing her child care subsidy. This leaves the parent with two choices: request a payroll decrease (which many do) or quit her job and file for Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF). Under current law, a parent can receive TANF for a life time maximum of five years,no more than two of which can be consecutive.

As you will see in Copy of Child Care – Schedule B (00000002), without housing and childcare subsidies, this parent would have to earn $3,590/month in order to net the $1,203 she netted while earning $2160. (See Schedule A) Solution: Phase in the maximum amount a parent can earn so that her child care subsidy is not jeopardized.

Issue 2: OPEN HOURS for Licensed Child Care Centers. No Licensed Child Care Centers are open weekends and those with the longest work days are only open from 6:30AM to 6:30PM. Many are closed on holidays and days when there are weather related school closures. Many holders of low paying jobs are required to work evenings and/or weekends as well as holidays and days when schools are closed. Centers charge either by the week or by the month. No one with whom we were able to speak charges by the day. This means that parents who want to put their children in licensed child care centers but work a five day week that includes a Saturday or Sunday must pay the Center’s weekly rate PLUS pay another provider to care for the child on Saturday or Sunday.

Solution: Provide Licensed Child Care Centers a shift differential as an incentive to be open evenings and weekends.

Issue 3: Licensed Child Care Centers are Unaffordable
Child care is very expensive and centers unaffordable for most low to moderate income families. Because of the child/caregiver ratios mandated by the State, licensed child care centers incur huge payroll expenses. That does not mean individual caregivers are well paid; in fact, they are often paid less than starting salaries at McDonalds and Wal-Mart’s, making employee turnover a serious problem. And not just for employers, but also for the children in their care. Not surprisingly, the few facilities with low turnover have long waiting lists.

Solution: Increase the subsidies paid providers

Issue 4: Accreditation by the National Association of Education of Young Children

In Charlottesville, only three licensed day care centers are accredited and two of them are restricted to UVA employees. We claim to want all of our children to be able to enter school prepared. We also claim to understand that prevention is infinitely cheaper than remediation.

Solution: Provide day care centers with the financial incentives they need to improve the quality of care they provide.

The 4 issues presented are not the only ones facing licensed child care families today but they are the principal ones. We are left little better than where we began. There remains an IMMEDIATE need for major changes in the Commonwealth’s handling of child care. We urge you to knock on your representative’s door and to let him know you are concerned.

For further information about this study, contact Anne Linden, email: alinden4@gmail.com

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