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Southern Regional Task Force

The Southern Regional Task Force on Child Care and Early Education convened at the Southern Institute on Children and Families in June 2005. State progress towards implementing the Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education was among the topics discussed. In attendance at the Task Force meeting from left to right: (Front Row: Leigh Bolick-SC, Linda Zang-MD, Teresa Printz-DE, Back Row: Carrie Thornhill-DC, Diane Rath-TX, Carol Barnett-FL, James T. McLawhorn-SC, Sarah C. Shuptrine, Task Force Chairman and President/CEO of the Southern Institute on Children and Families, Tonya Russell-AR, Sheila Hoyle-NC).

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Child Care/Early Education

Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care (SRICC)

The Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care spans 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 sets 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.

During a January 2004 meeting of the Southern Regional Task Force on Child Care, the Task Force requested that the Southern Institute conduct a survey of the states participating in the Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care to collect information on child care funding in the southern region and identify state-initiated policy changes related to funding shortages. The resulting report titled Child Care Survey Results on Funding and Related Policies in the Southern States reviews the findings from the survey.

Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care, "Talking Points" (Southern Regional Task Force on Child Care Meeting, Washington Court Hotel, Washington, DC, January 15, 2004). (PDF)

Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care. Action Plan to Improve Access to Child Care Assistance for Low-income Families in the South. Survey Results on the Status of State Implementation Efforts.
Columbia, SC: Southern Institute on Children and Families, January 2004. Full Report (pdf)

Individual state responses appear below. (pdf)

Alabama Maryland Tennessee
Arkansas Mississippi Texas
District of Columbia Missouri Virginia
Georgia North Carolina West Virginia
Kentucky Oklahoma  
Louisiana South Carolina  

Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care. Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education. Survey Results on the Status of State Implementation Efforts. Columbia, SC: Southern Institute on Children and Families, April 2005.

2001-2004 State Implementation Summary Chart (pdf)

Individual state responses appear below. (pdf)

Alabama Kentucky Oklahoma
Arkansas Louisiana South Carolina
Delaware Maryland Texas
District of Columbia Mississippi Virginia
Florida Missouri West Virginia
Georgia North Carolina  

Moving Forward: Southern States Take Action to Improve Access to Quality, Affordable Child Care, This report is the 2002 Year End Report for the Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care funded by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, May, 2003. (pdf)

Early Childhood Education:A Call to Action from the Business Community, May 7, 2003. (pdf)

Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education, October, 2002. (pdf)

Building Momentum — Taking Action: Southern States Collaborate on Child Care Financial Aid and Quality Initiatives, Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care, Southern Institute on Children and Families, February 2002. (pdf) Appendix A. Appendix B. Appendix C. (pdf)

Why Child Care Financial Assistance Is So Important

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 low-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.

In addition to building workforce capacity, financial assistance in paying for child care supports the efforts of states to improve the readiness of young children to succeed in school. New brain research has demonstrated that the first three years of life are critical in children's intellectual development. However, because so few families receive help paying for child care, and financial support is rarely made available to child care programs, many low-income families depend on low-quality or informal care arrangements, particularly relatives, or are forced to leave their children in unsafe conditions. When these arrangements break down, as they often do, employee dependability is affected.

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 low-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 in helping families avoid welfare.