This report, prepared by Abt Associates for HHS, finds that because of the strong economy, more parents working and more left-over TANF [Temporary Aid to Needy Families] funds, states are spending significantly more on child care, with a median increase of 78 percent from 1997 to 1999. However, a survey of 17 states shows that those states were unable to provide child care for 15 to 20 percent of federally eligible children in 1999, and 12 of the states had waiting lists.
Another potential problem, according to the report, lies in the states’ heavy use of TANF funds for child care expansion. These funds have become available as The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 has forced many welfare recipients off public assistance, and as the strong economy has facilitated movement from welfare to work. The concern is that if and when the economy weakens, welfare roles will bounce back, and funds for child care will diminish.
The study found that quality child care initiatives are few and far between and rarely target low-income communities where, the study suggests, quality child care can have the most effect. 143 pages. $27. Abt Associates, Attn: CMIS, 55 Wheeler St., Cambridge, MA 02138. (617) 520-2991. E-mail: CMIS@abtassoc.com. www.abtassoc.com/reports/childdevelopment-download.html.
– Amy Bracken