Supporting Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness: A Child Care Development Fund State Guide
NAEHCY and the Ounce of Prevention Fund are pleased to announce a new guide intended to assist states in utilizing their Child Care and Development Fund state plan (“CCDF Plan”) as a vehicle for improving access to high-quality early care and education for children who experience homelessness. The guide provides background information on common barriers and challenges; best practices for serving homeless families; a summary of requirements of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113-186) (“CCDBG Act”) related to homelessness; and a summary of some of the opportunities available through the state CCDF Plan to improve access.
As a companion to the guide, a self-assessment tool that can assist states in assessing their current policies and practices and identifying options to better support vulnerable children is included. We recommend reviewing the self-assessment tool prior to reading the guide.
Early care and education services, including child care, can help mitigate the impacts of homelessness on children. Research overwhelmingly shows high-quality educational experiences in the preschool years can have a positive effect and long-term benefit throughout a child’s education. Yet compared to poor housed parents, homeless parents are less likely to receive child care subsidies. At the same time, they are more likely to rely on informal child care arrangements and to report quitting jobs or school due to problems with child care. Homelessness presents barriers over and above what other poor families face, which are exacerbated by other factors, such as fragmentation of service systems, limited availability of services, lack of transportation, rigid program rules and the family’s mobility.
The new CCDBG offers an unprecedented opportunity to move states toward policies that make it easier for homeless families to access child care subsidies, and with new CCDF state plans due in March 2016, the time to act is NOW!
Please share this guide with your colleagues and partners at the local and state level, and please let us know how we can be helpful in your efforts.