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By Shyama Venkateswar, Ph.D.*
I joined a distinguished panel of researchers, advocates, and experts at the Yale Club on Thursday, January 19th when I presented our latest studies on increasing the access of low-income women to child care.
The panel was led by Jessica Sager, Co-Founder and Executive Director of All Our Kin, an innovative Connecticut-based program that has had significant success in training child care providers and increasing the economic security of low-income women.
To many of us, investing in child care is a no-brainer, but rigorous data from the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis showed that for every dollar invested in child care, the state of Connecticut earned $15-20 in economic benefits. In other words, child care not only pays for itself, but has a significant multiplier effect on the economy and on our society.
The Council will be issuing a report soon on two case studies conducted in the states of Tennessee and Georgia. We found that one of the main barriers to accessing care are restrictive eligibility requirements. Many low-income families simply do not qualify for child care support reinforcing a cycle of under-employment for parents and lack of safe, enriching environments for pre-school learning.
I was joined by my colleague Helen Blank from the National Women's Law Center who found alarming trends nationally of spiraling cuts in state budgets and a dearth of support at the state and federal levels for child care.
One of the biggest challenges we face is how to bring to scale programs like the one designed by All Our Kin and ensure that all children have access to quality care. We also need to support communication and outreach so that the public and policymakers are fully aware of the great benefits of supporting these programs.
Sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Arbor Brothers, Ms. Foundation for Women, National Council for Research on Women, and New York University's McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research.
*Shyama Venkateswar is Director of Research and Programs at the National Council for Research on Women.