At the White House Summit on Working Families this week, the US Department of Labor announced $25 million in grants to help address the child care needs of parents in job training programs. While this funding won’t be enough to help the 1.8 million low-income parents participating in education and training, it is an important start.
While public and philanthropic efforts have focused heavily on supporting non-traditional age students in community college programs, many parents find it difficult to complete training or get a degree. Community college staff have cited child care as one of the most important student supports for success, but that it is often too difficult or expensive to address students’ child care needs.
As Gina Adams said in her blog post this week, public funds to support child care are insufficient. While the Child Care Development Fund is the main source of funding for child care, another is the Workforce Investment Act, which allows for spending on supportive services such as child care and transportation. Additional attention is needed to identify how best to provide child care support through the workforce system and how to expand available resources.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act—which will likely replace WIA—making its way through Congress presents an opportunity to reexamine how the public workforce system addresses child care. The new $25 million program from the Department of Labor can help policymakers, funders, and workforce development programs figure out how to best support parents who are trying to build their skills so they can earn more money for their families.
We hope to contribute to that conversation with three upcoming Urban Institute reports (funded in part by the Ford Foundation) examining this critical nexus between education/training and child care.
Avery Bennett, 3, eats vegetable pesto lasagna at an evening child care program offered by Community Action Brattleboro Area Thursday April 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Jason R. Henske)