The Clinton Administration and Child Care

Caring for America's Children The Clinton Administration and Child Care
October 23, 1997

Over the past decade, the number of American families with working parents has expanded dramatically. Making high quality child care more affordable and accessible is critical to the strength of our families and to healthy child development and learning..... Each of us --from businesses to religious leaders to policy-makers and elected officials --has a responsibility and an important stake in making sure that children of all ages have the best possible care available to them. From infancy through adolescence, in child care settings and after-school programs, children can learn and thrive with the right care, attention, and education. -- President Clinton, July 23, 1997

President Clinton is hosting the first-ever White House Conference on Child Care to focus the nation's attention on the importance of addressing the need for safe, affordable, quality child care. This Conference underscores and builds upon the President Clinton's commitment to strengthen the American family by giving parents the tools they need to fulfill their responsibilities and giving children the ability to reach their full potential.

Strengthening America's Working Families

Putting Families First. Throughout his presidency, President Clinton has worked hard to help America's working families. That is why the President fought for the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to allow workers to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child, to attend to their own serious health needs, or to care for a seriously ill parent, child or spouse. In June 1996, President Clinton proposed expanding FMLA to allow workers to take up to 24 unpaid hours off each year for school and early childhood education activities, routine family medical care, and caring for an elderly relative. The President also has fought for greater health security for America's families. He signed into law the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which includes important new protections for an estimated 25 million Americans who move from one job to another, who are self-employed, or who have pre-existing medical conditions. And in August 1997, President Clinton signed the Balanced Budget Act which included $24 billion for the Children's Health Initiative -- the single largest investment in health care for children since 1965 -- to provide meaningful health care coverage to millions of uninsured children.

Providing Economic Opportunity. In 1993, President Clinton put into place an economic strategy that invests in people and provides real opportunity. President Clinton has fought for policies that help working parents fulfill their responsibilities, including winning inclusion of a $500 per-child tax credit for children under age 17 in the Balanced Budget Act -- helping 27 million families with 45 million children. The new Child Tax Credit is in addition to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (tax credits President Clinton protected during the balanced budget negotiations). President Clinton also expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit to give 15 million working families tax relief. In 1997, the average tax credit is $1,450 on family income up to $29,290. And the President proposed and signed into law an increase in the minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15. For a full-time, year-round worker at minimum wage, this 90-cent increase raises yearly income by $1,800 -- as much as the average family spends on groceries over seven months.

Investing in Child Care

Increasing Child Care Funding. Because of President Clinton's leadership, federal funding for direct child care subsidies has increased by nearly 70 percent since he took office, providing child care services for over one million children. The 1996 welfare law increased child care funding by $4 billion over six years, providing child care assistance to low-income working families and parents moving from welfare to work.

Increasing Participation in Head Start and Improving Program Quality. For more than thirty years, Head Start has been one of our nation's best investments ensuring that low-income children start school ready to learn. President Clinton has made expanding and improving Head Start a priority of his Administration. Since 1993, funding for the program has increased by 43 percent -- in fiscal year 1997, Head Start will serve nearly 800,000 low-income children four years old and younger. The Balanced Budget continues the expansion of Head Start toward the President's goal of serving one million children in 2002. Over the last three years, the Clinton Administration has also invested significantly in improving program quality, providing local programs with the resources they need to attract and retain high quality teachers, and ensuring the safety of Head Start centers.

Created Early Head Start for 0-3 Year Olds. Initiated by the President in 1994, there are now 143 Early Head Start programs across the country, expanding the proven benefits of Head Start to low-income families with children age three and under. The program provides early, continuous and comprehensive child development and family support services, preparing children for a lifetime of learning and development. In FY 1997, the program will have served nearly 25,000 children and their families.

Developed a Full-Day, Full-Year Head Start Initiative. In March 1997, the Administration announced a new Head Start initiative that will expand Head Start services for children while also helping parents, including those moving from welfare to work. Under the new initiative, child care providers will be given priority for Head Start expansion funds to deliver full-day, full-year Head Start services in partnership with Head Start. Children will stay in one place all day rather than attending Head Start for half a day then moving to child care for the remainder of the day.

Expanding Child Care in Rural America. Under the Clinton Administration, the Agriculture Department's Rural Housing Service's Community Facilities program is directing its efforts towards meeting the need for quality child care in rural areas. As a part of this effort, 31 child care centers were created in FY 1997 and the program will expand in FY 1998. In addition, the Rural Housing Service has been forming partnerships with other federal programs (including Head Start) and the private sector to help provide child care in rural America.

Providing Child Care in Urban Communities. Under the Clinton Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is supporting working families and those moving to work by providing both quality child care for their children and opportunities for parents to become self sufficient. Community Development Block Grants fund initiatives that include education/training opportunities, on-site after-school child care and construction of child care and youth centers. The Ounce of Prevention Program enhances efforts already underway in Empowerment Zones/Enterprise Communities with summer and after-school education/recreation activities and mentoring and tutoring programs. In 1997, the Department awarded $550 million in urban revitalization (HOPE VI) funds which will be used to physically revitalize communities and fund initiatives such as on-site day care centers and transportation services that provide access to employment centers and health care facilities. In 1997, the Administration funded $42 million for the Family Economic Development and Supportive Services (EDSS) program that will include child care services, youth leadership and mentoring skills and family/parental development counseling.

Serving Children with Special Needs. Under the Clinton Administration, the Department of Justice has worked hard to make sure that children with disabilities have access to child care along with non-disabled children. For instance, the Justice Department has entered into agreements regarding children with disabilities with the two largest child care companies in the country -- KinderCare has agreed to do "finger-prick" tests as requested by doctors and parents for children with diabetes and, in another agreement with KinderCare, the company has agreed to develop a model policy to enable a child with mental retardation to attend one of its centers with a state-funded personal care attendant. In addition, La Petite Academy has agreed to do the same "finger-prick" tests, to keep epinephrine on hand for severe and possibly-life-threatening allergy attacks, and to make changes to some of its programs so that children with cerebral palsy can participate. The Justice Department also provides information through its ADA information hotline (1-80 0-514-0301, 1-800-514-0383 TDD) and produces Commonly Asked Questions about Child Care Centers and the ADA for distribution. Additionally, the HHS Child Care Bureau has launched a special initiative to assist ten states to develop and implement effective plans aimed at improving and expanding their child care service delivery system. The project, "Map to Inclusive Child Care," will expand to other states over the next three years.

Easing the Commuting Dilemma for Families. The President is fighting for welfare-to-work transportation grants to assist states and local communities in moving individuals from welfare-to-work -- including helping parents with small children obtain transportation to their jobs and to child care. Proposed legislation is included in the transportation authorization bills currently before Congress. In addition, as a part of the Transportation Department's Livable Communities Initiative, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has provided opportunities for on-site community services -- Head Start facilities, a health clinic, and child care centers -- at transit facilities across the country to help parents obtain child care for their children on their commuting routes to work or training.

Ensuring Health and Nutrition in Child Care

Improving Health and Safety with Healthy Child Care America. In an effort to improve the health and safety of child care programs and to provide child health education to child care providers and parents, in 1995, the Clinton Administration launched the Healthy Child Care America initiative. This effort has established partnerships between child care providers and health care services in 46 states, helping to ensure that children in child care are in safe and healthy environments.

Ensuring that Children in Child Care Settings Are Properly Immunized. In July 1997, President Clinton proposed new child care regulations to ensure that children in child care receive the immunizations they need on time. The proposed rule would require that all children in federally subsidized child care be immunized according to state public health agency standards. This proposed regulation will particularly affect those children in child care arrangements that are legal but exempt from state licensing requirements.

Providing Quality Nutrition to Children in Child Care. President Clinton has maintained the commitment to providing quality nutrition in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), a federal program that provides healthy meals and snacks in child and adult day care facilities. In 1997, the program provided meals to about 2.5 million children and almost 50,000 adults in approximately 35,000 child care centers (including after-school centers), 195,000 family and group day care homes, and 1,500 adult day care centers. Child care providers in the CACFP must serve meals that meet federal nutrition guidelines, and must offer free or reduced-price meals to those eligible. The General Accounting Office identified CACFP as one of the most effective vehicles for reaching family child care providers and enhancing the care they provide because of its unique combination of resources, training, oversight and peer support. Notably, 87 percent of family child care homes that are considered to be providing good quality child care are participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, according to the Families and Work Institute's Study of Children in Family Child Care and Relative Care.

Caring for School-Age Children

Convened the 1997 School-Age Child Care Forums. The Child Care Bureau at the Department of Health and Human Services convened ten regional conferences to share promising initiatives for school-age children among child care, education, and community based organizations from nearly every state. These con ferences spurred additional dialogue among participants and stimulated planning to address "out of school time" in states and communities across the country.

Keeping Schools Open as Community Learning Centers -- A Guide. In May 1997, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton released Keeping Schools Open as Community Learning Centers: Extending Learning in a Safe, Drug-Free Environment Before and After School. The Department of Education, along with the National Community Education Association, Policy Studies Associates, and the American Bar Association, wrote the step-by-step guidebook on how school facilities can be used for after-school programs.

Providing After-School Activities Through 21st Century Learning Centers and Title I. The Clinton Administration's Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This law included a new statutory requirement that encourages schools receiving funding to enhance their instruction with such programs as extended school years, before- and after-school programs, and summer programs -- effectively giving "teeth" to after-school options. For instance, Title I -- which is funded by the Improving America's Schools Act and provides extra help with basic and advanced skills to disadvantaged students in elementary and secondary schools -- has been successful in helping Title I funded schools provide after-school programs. In addition, under this law, the 21st Century Community Learning Center program has been developed -- a program that once fully implemented will benefit urban and rural schools and their communities, allowing schools to stay open beyond the normal hours, offering expanded learning opportunities to children after-school. The President's current budget request includes $50 million to fund 350 21st Century Community Learning Center programs in FY 1998.

Supporting Positive After-School Choices with the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Communities Act. Because children unsupervised after school are more likely to engage in risky behaviors like substance use, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act funds before and after-school programs. In the 1994-95 school year, over 2,700 school districts used these funds to support before- and after-school activities.

Staying Safe After School with Community Schools. In the Anti-Gang and Youth Violence Initiative, the President has called for 1,000 new after-school initiatives across the country. Schools that stay open longer and are open on weekends and during the summer can provide students, parents and communities with access to valuable resources. Turning schools into after-hour safe havens can help to prevent violent crime and violent behavior while boosting our children's academic achievement.

Helping Children Through Service. As co-chair of the Presidents' Summit for America's Future, President Clinton helped bring businesses, nonprofits, states and communities, and volunteer groups to Philadelphia in April 1997 to focus on service and to ensure that every child in America has five key resources -- a caring adult, a safe place, a healthy start, a marketable skill, and a chance to serve. Many of the hundreds of corporations and nonprofits that made commitments at the summit pledged to become involved in after-school and mentor ing programs. America's Promise, the nonprofit organization founded to follow up on the summit promises, is now working with these organizations to ensure that they do so.

Enhancing Child Care and After-School Care with the Corporation for National Service. Established by President Clinton in 1993, the Corporation for National Service, through AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America and the National Senior Service Corps, is addressing the needs of children through service activities. Approximately two-thirds of the national service programs work to address the needs of children and youth often in child care and after-school settings. AmeriCorps members, college students, and senior volunteers, working alongside child care providers, are serving as tutors and mentors, health and nutrition educators, in both child care and after-school programs across the country.

Aiding the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The Clinton Administration is providing resources to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to establish and enhance more clubs throughout the United States. These Clubs are situated in at-risk communities and reach thousands of kids through violence prevention and reduction, educational health programs and youth leadership development. For instance, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America was awarded an AmeriCorps grant to provide education awards to 100 full-time and 800 part-time AmeriCorps members in up to 100 clubs early next year. The AmeriCorps members will be either older (17 and 18 year-olds) Boys or Girls Clubs members or club member alumni who will serve as tutors, mentors, and recreation activity coordinators in after-school programs.

Providing Information and Technical Assistance

Providing Child Care Information. In 1995, the Clinton Administration established the Child Care Bureau at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to streamline child care program operations and improve the quality and efficiency of service. In addition, HHS launched the National Child Care Information Center to disseminate child care information, publications and resources to help providers start up child care centers, parents locate child care in their communities, and researchers and policy makers attain access to policy information. Through the Technical Assistance Project, HHS has brought states together to share promising practices and has held special forums on school-age care, consumer education, Tribal child care programs, and a range of other topics.

Promoting Public/Private Partnerships. The Child Care Bureau has launched a nationwide effort to promote public/private partnerships in child care by providing technical assistance to states on promising initiatives going on across the country.

Providing a Resource and Referral Clearinghouse for Working Families. The Department of Labor Women's Bureau recently published a report entitled: What Works! The Working Women Count Honor Roll Final Report which highlights employers who have made real change in the areas that working women and their families care about most -- pay and benefits, family friendly workplaces (including child care) and respect and fair treatment on the job. Hundreds of employers accepted this challenge to deliver real change -- especially in child care. This guide was a result of the Working Women Count national questionnaire which surveyed 250,000 working women -- the largest questionnaire of working women ever. Notably, child care was identified as a top issue for working women. In addition to this guide, the Labor Department has expanded its resource and referral clearinghouse for employers and working families. The agency has established a toll-free number (1-800-827-5335) and provides materials like the Work and Family Resource Kit and Care Around the Clock: Developing Child Care Before 9 and after 5.

Training Caregivers -- a Nationally Acclaimed Program. The Education Department's Office of Educational Research and Improvement supports the regional laboratory in San Francisco, California called WestEd. WestEd has developed a nationally acclaimed Infant/Toddler Caregiver Training Program which teaches caregivers how to provide nurturing and stimulating environments to promote quality child care. Research-based videos and printed materials are available in Spanish, Chinese, and English. Eight thousand caregivers have been trained in California and the program has been expanded across the nation.

Learning Lessons from the Military Child Development Programs

Providing High Quality Child Care -- The Military Model. Under the Clinton Administration, the Department of Defense (DoD) has made important strides to improve the quality of child care for the children of the men and women who serve our country. The DoD Child Care System serves over 200,000 children (age zero to 12) daily making the U.S. military system the largest employer-sponsored child care program in the nation. The DoD Child Care System, known as the Child Development Program, includes Child Development Centers, Family Child Care homes, School Age Care programs, and Resource and Referral services. Through this system, the military offers full-day, part-day, and hourly child care, part-day preschools, before- and after-school programs for school age children, and extended hour care which includes nights and weekends to accommodate shift workers. Because of the Department of Defense's commitment to excellence in child care, since 1992, the number of military child care facilities that are accredited by the independent National Association for the Education of Young Children has risen from 55 to 353. Currently, over 75 percent of military child care programs are accredited, as compared to only 7 percent of other child care facilities nationwide. Since the early 1990s, the DoD has focused on improving the quality, availability, and cost of child care for military families.

Sharing the Military's Expertise. Because of the DoD's high quality, comprehensive child care programs, in April 1997, President Clinton directed the Secretary of Defense to share the expertise and lessons learned from the Military Child Development Programs with Federal, State, tribal, and local agencies, as well as with private and nonprofit groups, that are responsible for providing child care. In his Directive the President stated, "The Military Child Development Programs have attained a reputation for an abiding commitment to quality in the delivery of child care. The Department of Defense's dedication to adequate funding, strict oversight, improved training and wage packages, strong family child care networks, and commitment to meeting national accreditation standards is laudatory. I believe that the military has important lessons to share with the rest of the Nation on how to improve the quality of child care for all of our Nation's children." In response to the President's directive, the Pentagon is implementing a plan to reach out to states and civilian child care centers to share its expertise.

Supporting A Family-Friendly Federal Workplace

Promoting Family-Friendly Initiatives. Under President Clinton's leadership, the federal government, striving to be a model employer for other private and public employers, has implemented family-friendly leave initiatives that enhance the ability of employees to balance family and employment obligations. In addition to leave initiatives, the federal government offers compressed or flexible work schedules to many workers so that they may spend more time with their families.

Providing Child Care for Federal Workers. In addition to the Department of Defense's model child care program, there are more than 230 child care centers for civilian government employees in federal buildings in as many as 36 states. The General Services Administration (GSA) oversees 108 of these centers, making GSA the largest civilian sponsor of work-site child care in the nation. Under this Administration, the emphasis on quality has continued -- with 73 percent of GSA sponsored centers accredited by the independent National Association for Education of Young Children, and with a goal of reaching 100 percent accreditation within two years. Striving to meet the needs of parent workers, 89 percent of GSA centers have infant care, 74 percent have drop-in/emergency care, and 42 percent provide summer programs for school aged children. In addition, more than 80 percent of centers are open 11 or more hours per day. Nearly 70 percent of the child care center directors have ten or more years of experience in early childhood education.

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