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Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care

There is no doubt that the availability of affordable child care is a key workforce issue. With millions of parents working at the lower end of the wage scale, and with many leaving the welfare rolls, assistance in paying for child care is perhaps the most critical work-support measure in which the federal government, states and the private sector can invest. Yet, there is inadequate attention given to the huge gap between the price of child care and the ability of families to pay for it.

Child care, on average, is the third largest expense for all families with preschool-age children, after housing and food. And the expense of child care disproportionately impacts lower-income and single-parent families, some of whom can spend as much as 50 percent (or more) of their income to purchase full-time, center-based child care.

Public and private child care subsidies can help low-income families pay for child care. Yet nationwide, only about 10 percent of families who qualify for child care assistance based on income actually receive it. The reason is inadequate funding for child care at the federal, state, public and private levels.

Assisting lower-income families with the high cost of child care is not welfare; it is a realistic approach to support the efforts of parents to work, and it is a major tool to help families avoid welfare. From 2000 - 2004 the Southern Institute on Children and Families directed the Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care to improve access to quality, affordable child care and early education with support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The Initiative was guided by a 24-member Southern Regional Task Force on Child Care composed of gubernatorial representatives from 17 southern states, a mayoral appointee representing the District of Columbia, a representative of the Southern Growth Policies Board and representatives appointed by the Southern Institute.

The Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care spanned four years of intensive work to improve access to quality, affordable child care and early education. Like no other initiative in the United States, the Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care set the standard for a regional collaborative initiative that involves diverse interests and achieves results. The Southern Institute published the comprehensive Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care Final Project Report in 2004, which outlines the activities and accomplishments of the Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care from its inception in January 2000 through its conclusion in April 2004.

Among the major activities of the Task Force was the development of two action plans representing blueprints for southern states to guide their efforts to achieve action in this important area of child development:

  • Action Plan to Improve Access to Child Care Assistance for Low-Income Families in the South (December 2000)
  • Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education (October 2002)
  • Annual state implementation reports compiled and published by the Southern Institute from 2001 to 2004 provided information to state and federal officials, advocates and researchers and also gave respondents the opportunity to communicate on challenges, opportunities, progress and retrenchments in the southern states. The Southern Institute tracked progress on achieving the 10 goals and 52 action steps of the Action Plan to Improve Access to Child Care Assistance for Low-Income Families in the South for three years (2001, 2002 and 2003). View the Status Report on State Implementation Efforts for the Action Plan to Improve Access to Child Care Assistance for Low-Income Families in the South, which was published in January 2004.  You may also view survey responses from individual states by clicking on the state name below.

    State-by-State Survey Responses to the State Implementation Survey
    for the Action Plan to Improve Access to Child Care Assistance for Low-Income Families in the South

    Alabama

    Kentucky

    Missouri

    Tennessee

    Arkansas

    Louisiana

    North Carolina

    Texas

    District of Columbia

    Maryland

    Oklahoma

    Virginia

    Georgia

    Mississippi

    South Carolina

    West Virginia

    The Southern Institute also tracked actions taken on the seven goals and 39 action steps included in the Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education for two years (2003 and 2004). View the Status Report on State Implementation Efforts for the Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education, which was published in January 2004. Additionally, in 2005 the Southern Institute conducted an analysis of the 2004 Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education State Implementation Survey completed by 15 states and the District of Columbia. A formal status report was not published, but a summary chart comparing actions taken across states is available.  You may also view survey responses from individual states by clicking on the state name below.

    State-by-State Survey Responses to the State Implementation Survey
    for the Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education

    Alabama

    Georgia

    Missouri

    Virginia

    Arkansas

    Kentucky

    North Carolina

    West Virginia

    Delaware

    Louisiana

    Oklahoma

     

    District of Columbia

    Maryland

    South Carolina

     

    Florida

    Mississippi

    Texas

     

    Funding for the Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care ended in April 2004. All reports published during the Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care, both action plans and results of state surveys can be found by visiting the Child Care/Early Early Education Publications section of our Web site.

     

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    90-F Glenda Trace, Suite 326
    Newnan, GA 30265
    (803) 779-2607
     

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