Inside America’s child care crisis: Even after a ‘historic’ federal investment, today’s system only serves 1 in 6 eligible kids. Could more funding now be on the way?
Though advocates hailed the additional $2.37 billion of federal child care funding in fiscal years 2018 and 2019 as “truly historic,” they are seeking more funding for the program, which still only serves about 1 in 6 eligible children. Early-education groups asked Congress for another $5 billion for fiscal 2020; House Democrats proposed adding about half of that, $2.4 billion next year. Long-term, it would probably take about $100 billion annually to cover every eligible child, said Jay Nichols, director of federal policy and government affairs at Child Care Aware of America, based on current spending and the number of eligible children served. Policymakers would also have to address widespread child care deserts, where providers simply aren’t available. To allow states to make more long-term plans, much of that funding should come from mandatory sources, meaning it wouldn’t be subject to congressional whims, he added.