Has Access to Quality Child Care Improved for Low-Income Working Families in Illinois?
From the Policy Shop of Teresa Ramos and Samir Tanna at Illinois Action for Children
We recently shared our findings on access to quality child care in Illinois from 2011 to 2016 to determine if the strategies implemented proved effective. In this analysis they asked, “How did Illinois perform in promoting increased supply of quality care?”
Our research team found improvement in the number of quality slots available for Cook County and Southwestern Illinois children age birth to five in programs that accept Illinois Child Care Assistance.
After reviewing the research, our team wrestled with the policy implications. We believe that Illinois can continue to improve access to quality care that is also affordable by implementing the following policy changes:
- The Governor’s Office and the Office of Early Childhood Development should revise the child care and early education funding system in order to fully fund programs to provide quality, affordable care.
- The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) should set provider reimbursement rates for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) based on the cost of providing care within a community, rather than the market rate methodology used now. The market rate system is flawed, resulting in reimbursements that are inequitable and insufficient for providing high-quality care.
- In the short term, Illinois needs to raise all reimbursement rates, so that all communities whether urban, suburban, or rural, have sufficient supply of high quality child care.
- Replace or supplement the Illinois market rate survey with a cost-of-care analysis by 2022.
- IDHS should explore and support policies that will increase the supply of high-quality child care in homes:
- Align Illinois child care professional development requirements and opportunities to create clearer pathways to a quality rating. Incentivize providers to take these pathways.
- IDHS and the Early Learning Council should review and revise the existing quality incentives, which have had limited impact to date e.g. subsidy add-ons and grant funding.
- GOECD and the Early Learning Council should create new schedule incentives to encourage high-quality programs to offer extended-hour child care so that families working non-traditional hours (i.e. outside of 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) can access care.
- Look at communities holistically. Supply-side quality incentives should be implemented in coordination with demand-side investments, such as expanding CCAP eligibility or expanding the use of CCAP contracts.
The results of their research are in three briefs:
- Part 1: Has Access to Quality Child Care for Children Age 0 to 5 Increased for Low-Income Families?
- Part 2: Has Access to Quality Infant Care Increased for Low-Income Families?
- Part 3: Has Access to Quality Child Care During Nonstandard Hours Increased for Low-Income Families?
Stay tuned as we continue to roll out our new series “From the Research Desk” of Dr. David Alexander and its companion, “From the Policy Shop ”of Samir Tanna and Teresa Ramos.
Teresa Ramos, VP of Public Policy & Advocacy
Samir Tanna, Director of Public Policy & Community Engagement
The analysis and conclusions presented in this report are those of the Research Department of Illinois Action for Children and do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders.