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Child Care Initiatives

The Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care (SRICC)

The Southern Institute on Children and Families established the Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care in January 2000 with support from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The Initiative is guided by a 24-member Southern Regional Task Force on Child Care composed of gubernatorial representatives from 17 southern states, a mayoral appointee representing the District of Columbia, a representative of the Southern Growth Policies Board and representatives appointed by the Southern Institute. States participating in the Initiative are Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

A Staff Work Group of child care experts and policy staff from southern regional organizations provide expertise on issues addressed by the Task Force. The Southern Institute commissioned consultants to conduct surveys and additional research needed to assist with the deliberations of the Task Force and to conduct research on several issues identified during 13 state site visits.

The initial charge to the Task Force was to collaborate in the development of a plan of action to improve access to child care assistance for low-income families in the southern region. Once this action plan was completed and implementation activities were underway, the Task Force then embarked upon the development of a southern regional action plan to improve child care quality. The Southern Institute on Children and Families is now tracking the progress of the southern states as they endeavor to implement both the Action Plan to Improve Access to Child Care Assistance for Low-Income Families in the South and the Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education.

In December 2000, the Task Force released its first report titled Sound Investments: Financial Support for Child Care Builds Workforce Capacity and Promotes School Readiness. The Task Force set forth 10 goals and 52 action steps to improve access to child care financial aid. Site visits were hosted by Task Force members in 13 southern states to provide the Southern Institute the opportunity to brief public and private officials on the action plan. During 2001 and 2002, state surveys were conducted to track actions taken by states as a result of the action plan. Findings from the state surveys on implementation of the Action Plan to Improve Access to Child Care Assistance for Low-Income Families in the South were published by the Southern Institute on Children and Families.

The Southern Regional Initiative on Child Care Forum on Child Care Financial Aid Issues was held in February 2002 in Washington, DC. The Forum was designed to address issues related to Goal 1 in the Action Plan to Improve Access to Child Care Assistance for Low-Income Families in the South, which calls for adequate funding to meet 100% of the need for direct child care assistance based on the federal eligibility policy of 85% of the State Median Income. The DC Forum focused on reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) block grant, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant and reauthorization impact on the child care subsidy system. It examined legal issues related to implementing goals of the child care financial aid action plan and held a stimulating dialogue on federal and state roles in supporting affordable child care for working families.

The action plan for quality early care and education was released in October 2002. The Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education contains seven goals and 39 action steps. The action plan was developed through Staff Work Group analysis and Task Force deliberations on survey results outlining the status of child care standards in the southern states, as compared with the quality standards set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The Second Annual Southern Regional Forum on Child Care was held in October 2002 in Charleston, South Carolina. Public and private sector representatives attended the Forum from 16 southern states, the District of Columbia and regional policy organizations. The Forum was the setting for release of the Southern Regional Action Plan to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education. The Forum agenda also included presentations and dialogue on implementation of the Action Plan to Improve Access to Child Care Assistance for Low-Income Families in the South.

Collaboration across early care and education programs was identified as a goal in both the child care financial aid action plan and the quality action plan. Two reports commissioned by the Southern Institute to examine issues related to collaboration across CCDF, Head Start, Pre-kindergarten and TANF child care programs were published by the Southern Institute on Children and Families. The first report, titled Analysis of Potential Barriers to Creating Coordinated Absence Policies for Collaborations Between Head Start and CCDF and TANF-Funded Programs, was prepared by Rachel Schumacher, Jennifer Mezey and Mark Greenberg at the Center for Law and Social Policy. The second report, titled Collaboration Among Child Care, Head Start and Pre-kindergarten: A Telephone Survey of Selected Southern States, was prepared by Dottie C. Campbell.

All reports, both action plans and results of state surveys can be found on our website.

For additional information, contact Christi Stewart at 803.779.2607 or cstewart@thesoutherninstitute.org.