Research supports the fact that early learning experiences are necessary to healthy intellectual, social, and emotional development. Such experiences create a foundation for children to be successful students and eventually productive, contributing adults.
Voices for Children believes that financial investments in working families and their children are investments in the future of our state and workforce.
Nearly 4 out of every 5 (77.9%) mothers with a child under the age of 6 are working in Nebraska. In order to ensure that families can work and children are safe, parents need access to quality and affordable licensed childcare. When families can’t afford licensed care, children can be left in unsafe situations or parents may have limited opportunities to work.
In 2012, full-time care in a licensed facility for one infant in Nebraska cost an average of $7,693 per year– that’s more than the average cost of four year in-state college tuition! What does that mean for a family’s budget? For a single parent in Nebraska, this cost amounts to 36% of their median annual income.
In spite of growing evidence and interest in early childhood in the last few years, funding for our state’s child care subsidy program is lacking. Child care eligibility was cut in 2002 as part of larger state budget cuts and hasn’t been restored to previous levels. Even today, the program faces another round of budget cuts to the amount paid to childcare providers.
Despite the continual setbacks for child care, all hope isn’t lost. This legislative session, we’ll be working with lawmakers to establish a small earned income incentive for ongoing subsidy eligibility. Instead of another step backward on child care, this incentive would be a step toward helping more families afford childcare and improve their financial stability.