Human Services

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There are multiple challenges to the question of child care in the states. Early childhood education can be viewed through multiple policy area lenses, including workforce development, education, health care and economic development. What is at stake for families with young children needing child care?

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The fourth of a five-part series on child care as a public policy question, this CSG research brief highlights child care quality in the states, including initiatives to mea- sure and improve quality, and the development of a skilled early childhood education workforce. The prior three briefs in this series explored demographics of families with small children, affordability and access.

This is the third installment of a series of research briefs focusing on child care in the United States. The first brief provided an overview of child care, including what families with children look like today. The second brief explored the affordability of child care. This brief focuses on questions about the availability and access American families have to child care from state to state. How can families choose which setting is best for their child? How many slots are available per child in a state, and how many child care workers are there?

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Child care is a major expense for most families across the country. Federal, state and local governments recognize the financial burden that child care places on parents, offering subsidies to those hardest hit— low-income families. This research brief is the second in a five-part series about the state of child care and its implications. In the first brief, we introduced child care as a state policy area, the demographics of families with young children, and the federal legislative landscape for improving the quality of child care and subsidizing costs.

Affordable, high-quality and accessible child care is a challenge for many American families. In a series of research briefs, CSG examines the balancing act familiar to many families in the United States—managing work and child care—and how states are working in conjunction with the federal government to improve the process for all families with young children.

CSG Midwest
Three alternatives to traditional marriage are recognized in different parts of this region: domestic partnerships, civil unions and common-law marriages. 
CSG Midwest
Right now in Iowa, it’s no sure bet that a child in need of mental health services is going to get them. Instead, access can depend on where his or her family happens to live. “There is no statewide system or network of care in place, and over the long term, we need to develop it because there are clear gaps,” explains Anne Gruenwald, president and CEO of Four Oaks, a Cedar Rapids-based nonprofit agency that provides a range of services for children in need.
“When you have those gaps, needs go unmet, or we have to rely on our adult system of care — and that’s not always a good fit.” Iowa appears to be taking some important first steps, thanks to the recommendations of a work group formed by the Legislature in 2015 and actions taken by lawmakers during their 2016 session. 
CSG Midwest
Starting in 2017, the state of Nebraska will begin offering up to $5 million in tiered tax credits annually to early-childhood programs and their employees — the first Midwestern state, and just the second U.S. state, to do so. Under the School Readiness Tax Credit Act (LB 889, passed earlier this year), which is linked to a quality rating and improvement system created three years ago by the Unicameral Legislature, providers receive incentives based on their quality rating, while eligible employees can claim credits based on education levels, training and work history.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides assistance to millions of low-income American individuals and families to help purchase groceries. As the American economy has improved over the last five years and more Americans have returned to work since the Great Recession of 2008, the monthly average of individuals participating in SNAP has largely declined.

CSG Midwest

One of the more notable trends in state policy over the past decade has been the increased legislative activity and investment around early childhood education. In the Midwest, countless laws and programs (some new, some long-standing) are now in place, from “Preschool for All” in Illinois to “Gearing Up for Kindergarten” in North Dakota.

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