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III. New Community -
Child Care and Head Start
"The hardest and the most important part of welfare reform is
moving people from welfare to work. You have to educate and train
people. You've got to make sure that their kids aren't punished once they go
to work by losing their health care or their child care."
-- President Clinton National Association of Counties, March 7, 1995
Quality child care is critical to the millions of working families
struggling to make ends meet. The Administration has been committed to
expanding child care assistance through Head Start and
other successful child care programs - and to improving the quality of
The need for assistance with child care is large and growing. Proposals
to block grant and cap child care assistance threaten to eliminate the
child care which enables poor families to work.
Almost one million children of working poor families receive
assistance through the At-Risk and Child Care and Development Block
Grant Programs. If child care funds are capped, these hard working
American families could be cut off and put at-risk for welfare dependency.
Low-income families who pay for child care spend more than a quarter
of their income on these expenses, and millions more are in need of
child care assistance. In California, 225,000 children are on a
waiting list for child care.
More than 400,000 children each month receive child care assistance
through AFDC and Transitional Child Care programs. Assistance for these
children and their families is in jeopardy if child care funds are
capped. Studies indicate that when child care arrangements break down,
parents are more likely to drop out of school or leave work and go back
The quality of child care is far from adequate. Poor quality care
threatens children's development. The recent study conducted by
economists and child development experts confirms that quality care is
related to child outcomes. The vast majority of care in the country was
found to be mediocre, with 40% of infant care considered poor.
Increased Funding for Child Care. Every budget submitted by
President Clinton has included increases in child care. The President's
budget for 1996 increases funding by $100 million.
A Central Element of Welfare Reform.The Work and Responsibility Act
introduced last year continued the guarantee for families moving toward
self sufficiency and expanded child care assistance for working families
- part of the effort to make work pay. The President's plan included a
$1.5 billion increase in child care funding over five years for working
poor families at-risk of welfare dependency.
Improving Coordination. The Administration has worked to make
programs more consistent and coordinated, proposing new regulations to
reduce red tape, improve quality, give states more
flexibility, and streamline child care operations into a single Child
Technical Assistance. The Clinton Administration revamped and
strengthened technical assistance to the states, territories and tribes
to ensure they have access to the best available information
on quality issues, particularly health and safety. In addition, the
Administration has launched a National Child Care Information Center for
policy makers and the general public.
Head Start. President Clinton's FY96 budget proposes an
additional $400 million increase for this program which provides
comprehensive services for disadvantaged children, ages three to five,
and their families. With bipartisan support, the President appointed the
Head Start Advisory Commission to examine and recommend improvements to
the program after 25 years of service.
Under Republican proposals, more than $2 billion dollars in child care
assistance would be cut over five years and more than 300,000 children
would lose assistance in the year 2000.