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Financial Assistance 11


Recommendation

The Texas Workforce Commission should expand its current child care plan to include a priority focus on child care and funding strategies for children of active military personnel, emergency workers and victims’ families.


Summary

Children left without adequate adult supervision are vulnerable to increased emotional, academic and behavioral difficulties.[1] Providing quality, affordable child care is a challenge for many families, particularly those experiencing the absence or loss of a loved one due to war or disaster. During these periods, there may be an enhanced need for child care at a time when families are already facing a variety of additional expenses. The National Women’s Law Center reports that military families’ need for child care has increased rapidly, due in part to the rising number of two-career military families.[2]

A quality child care program for one child may cost between $5,000 and $8,300 per year, according to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).[3] Yet reservists called up to active duty may find themselves earning only a small percentage of their peacetime wages.[4] Additionally, many Texas child care programs funded by the TWC have substantial waiting lists for services.[4]

In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed the Military Child Care Act (Public Law 104-106, § 88), which was designed to improve the child care options available to military families. The RAND Corporation reports that this act has generally been effective in improving child care for military families. However, the provisions of the act only address children younger than school age and those in child development centers.[5] The U.S. Army reports the greatest success and the U.S. Marine Corps the least success with the implementation of the Military Child Care Act, with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force falling somewhere in between in the success of their efforts.[6]

In Texas, the TWC distributes state and federal funds for child care; including Child Care and Development Fund Mandatory Funds authorized under the Social Security Act, Section 418(a)(1), as amended; state General Revenue Maintenance of Effort funds; Social Services Block Grant funds; Welfare-to-Work funds reserved by the governor; and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.[7] The TWC may also apply for additional federal child care funds that may be available to the state during a declared emergency or disaster.

The TWC submits a quarterly state child care plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.[8] The FY 2002-2003 State of Texas Child Care and Development Fund Plan, which is posted on the TWC’s Web site, covers October 1, 2001 to September 30, 2003.

The TWC’s future quarterly updates to its state child care plan should include planning a coordinated statewide approach that prioritizes child care for children of active military personnel, emergency workers and victims’ families. Child care options should include an examination of whether current state and federal child care funds can be combined to provide free or reduced-cost child care.



Legislative Changes Required

The TWC has no specific plans to address the child care needs of Texas military or emergency personnel called up for current war efforts.[9] The TWC should make these children a high priority for child care services.

Legislation is needed to require the TWC to develop child care options for children of active military personnel, emergency workers and victims’ families during periods of war. These options should include an examination of existing state and federal child care and disaster relief funds to determine if emergency and military personnel are eligible. Any options for increased child care programs and funding should be incorporated into the TWC’s state child care plan.


Fiscal Impact

The state’s federal child care funding appropriation has not yet been determined by the U.S. Congress.[10] The amount of any future funds which might be available for this effort cannot be estimated.


[1] Texas Workforce Commission, Child Care/Work and Family Clearinghouse, “School Age Child Care: Texas School District Involvement,” Austin, Texas, July 1998.

[2] Nancy Campbell, Judith Appelbaum, Karin Martinson and Emily Martin, Be All That We Can Be: Lessons from the Military for Improving Our Nation’s Child Care System (Washington, D.C.: National Women’s Law Center, April 2000).

[3] Texas Workforce Commission, “Employer-Sponsored Child Care Assistance”: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/svcs/workfamch/escca.html.

[4] David Ferrell, “The Call to Arms that Jolts,” Los Angeles Times (February 11, 1991), Section A, p. 1.

[4] Telephone interview with Gary Frederick, Texas Workforce Commission, Austin, Texas, October 15, 2001.

[5] RAND Corporation, Examining the Implementation and Outcomes of the Military Child Care Act of 1989, by Gail Zellman and Ann Johansen (1998): http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR665/.

[6] RAND Corporation, “The Armed Services’ Response to the Military Child Care Act”: http://www.rand.org/publications/RB/RB7521/.

[7] Texas Administrative Code, Title 40, Part 20, Chapter 800, Subchapter B, Rule number 800.58, Child Care.

[8] Texas Workforce Commission, “Commission Minutes for February 27, 2001”: http://twc.state.tx.us/twcinfo/minutes/022701m.html.

[9] Telephone interview with Gary Frederick, Texas Workforce Commission, October 15, 2001.

[10] Telephone interview with Gary Frederick.