Report: Child-Care Assistance Can Be Too Hard to Get

Posted On May 11, 2016

By Veronica Carter, Indiana News Service


Advocates are pushing for a child-care tax credit based on family income that would let parents choose their own child-care facility. Photo by Sierra Black.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Wading through the paperwork involved in getting government help to pay for child care can be overwhelming to already overworked parents. A new report by the Center for American Progress looks at how difficult it can be for low-income families to navigate an underfunded child-care support system.

As child-care costs keep rising, quality pre-kindergarten and after-school programs are out of reach for many working families, said Judith Warner, a senior fellow for the center who authored the study, “Jumping Through Hoops and Set Up to Fail.”

“Indiana alone,” she said, “you’ve got 68 percent of kids under age 6 with both parents in the workforce but only 13 percent of preschool-age children who are currently enrolled in pre-K.”

The report took a state-by-state look at child-care costs. In Indiana, the figure was $16,000 a year for parents with an infant and a 4-year-old. Warner said that often means having to look at cost over quality when it comes to child care.

Warner said parents who qualify for assistance with child-care expenses often aren’t given a lot of help to navigate the system.

“You’re dependent on people who may or may not lose your paperwork, and may or may not want to help you,” she said, “and if things go wrong, your child loses a stable, good place in child care that brings them so many advantages.”

The Center for American Progress report made some recommendations – including less paperwork for parents and more child-care funding. Last fall, the group also proposed a “High-Quality Child Care Tax Credit,” worth up to $14,000 per child, based on family income. The money would be paid directly to a child-care provider chosen by the parents.

The report is online at americanprogress.org.