Date: Saturday, May 9, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Kharfen (202) 401-9215
HHS HELPS PARENTS CHOOSE AND STATES BETTER INFORM PARENTS ON QUALITY CHILD CARE
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today released a new, practical and easy-to-use guide for parents to choose quality child care providers and a brochure for states on improving consumer education to parents. Both were announced by President Clinton in his message for Mother's Day.
"This handy and helpful guide can give parents more confidence in selecting the best child care provider for their children," Shalala added. "This is one way that government can help, but we still need to invest in support for working families so they can make these critical choices about their child care."
The "Four Steps" guide suggests a simple, basic approach to selecting a quality child care provider: interview the potential caregiver, check references, make the decision for quality care and stay involved with the caregiver. Each step has a list of easy to follow questions for parents to ask and check off to learn about how the potential provider interacts with children, responds to parents, ensures proper health and safety standards, is affordable, and meets any special needs of their children. There are also toll-free numbers for more information on health and safety, and to find a local child care resource and referral program.
A February 1998 report by the HHS Inspector General found that "most [states] were not able to provide sufficient consumer education" for parents to decide on quality child care programs. HHS' new guide to states provides successful examples and useful recommendations to states and child care administrators on how to help parents assess their child care needs, locate services, obtain subsidies for income eligible families, evaluate quality and choose the best, appropriate care for their children. The guide contains examples of effective public awareness campaigns, use of the world wide web and toll free telephone numbers, information resources, and state initiatives to enhance child care quality.
Finding quality child care is a challenge for parents. A survey of parents revealed that 62 percent of working parents report major problems finding quality child care to meet their needs. A study on quality and cost of child care in several states found that only 1 out of 7 child care programs met an acceptable level of quality. Another reported that 13 percent of regulated and 50 percent of non-regulated care provided inadequate care. Most importantly, a continuing study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development shows that there is a direct connection between higher quality care and better cognitive development for children.
"Though states are making investments to help improve the quality of care, there is a long way to go," Olivia Golden added, "The "Four Step" guide and the consumer education brochure for states won't go out of date to help parents find quality child care."
Early this year, President Clinton proposed an historic investment in child care for America's working families. The unprecedented $21.7 billion program will expand subsidies for low income working families, increase tax credits for middle income families and provide resources to states and communities to enhance and ensure that parents have quality choices in child care providers. The President's plan gives parents flexible options to choose a child caretaker in their home, in a neighborhood home or a center. There are about 10 million children eligible for federal subsidies, yet as of 1995, only a little over 1 million children received support. With 70 percent of America's mothers in the work force, working parents are desperately in need of help to continue to support their kids and have safe, healthy places for their children for part of the day.
Both guides will be distributed to states and communities and are available on the world wide web at http://www.acf.dhhs.gov. For the toll-free number for a nearby child care resource and referral program, call Child Care Aware at (800) 424-2246. For more information on health and safety in child care programs, call the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care at (800) 598-KIDS.
Note: HHS press releases are available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.hhs.gov.