State Assistance for Childcare

In the days of dual incomes and a divorce rate well over 50%, the need for affordable and quality childcare has increased dramatically, It is nearly impossible to support a family with one income, though single parents are doing it everyday, often with the help of state assistance.

State and federal governments have been scrambling these days to compensate for the more 31 million children who now live with only one parent. The need has taken on a new level with rising rates and decreasing job availability. Many states, at the urging of the federal government, have implemented child care support systems which will enable single parents to work or attend school without having to worry about the increasing cost of child care.

This is largely due in part to the governments leveraging of the welfare system, looking for any means to get single parents to work or school. The popular thought is, get them back to work and get them off welfare. Subsidizing childcare is more cost effective than paying a single parent welfare to stay home to take care of their children

Head Start is one of the breakthroughs in assisted childcare. Serving the low to middle class families in a particular state, Head Start provides free or low cost childcare and preschool services to children who come from lower income households, over half of them making less than the annual poverty rate. Head Start also provides essential services such as medical and dental screenings, as well as being an advocate to the child and the family, introducing them to a variety of community resources available. Head Start gets the majority of their funding from the state, they also receive federal grants to ensure proper running of the facility.

Another way the states help to assist single parents in child care needs is the use of Child Support Enforcement. These agencies compensate single parents for their childcare expense, all the while making sure that the absent parent financially compensates the system. Many children and families in the welfare system have in place a way to make the absent parent pay their fair share of the expense.

Local ACCESS firms also make funds available for single parents who decide to go to work or school. Many of these state sponsored site will prepare assistance for a low income families and single parents in need. This also may include screening of potential child care providers and rate of pay negotiations to make sure that day care will never financially hurt a family who takes the initiative to work or school.

Also being initiated by some state are sponsored daycare, a childcare facility that is owned and run by the individual state, often with no help from the federal government whatsoever. The staff are usually screened and trained to fit the criteria of a commercial daycare program, the only difference thing being that they are funded by the state, though meeting all regulatory food guidelines.

When a family is seeking child care, most states compile a database of providers that include licensing, certifications and complaints. Some states even rate them on a graded scale, providing a thoughtful glimpse into each provider.