MODIFICATIONS TO PRESIDENT CLINTON'S CHILD CARE INITIATIVE
RECOMMENDED BY DISABILITY ADVOCATES
(1) CHILD CARE AND DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT
Issue: The President's initiative proposes to double Child Care and Development Block Grant funding by the year 2003, thereby serving 2 million children. Unfortunately, the payment rates established by states to implement the CCDBG act as a disincentive to providers to enroll children with disabilities. The initiative should include payment rate or other incentives to providers who enroll infants, toddlers and older children with disabilities in child care programs. The range should be one to two children with disabilities for every five children without disabilities.
Action requested: Develop financial or other incentives with CCDBG funds to enable providers to enroll and meet the needs of children with disabilities.
(2) GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Issue: The General Services Administration (GSA) operates more than one hundred child care centers in federal buildings across the country. GSA has conducted extensive studies on affordability of such care and has determined that additional funding is necessary to enable low income federal employees to afford the GSA operated child care services.
Action requested: The President should advocate for $10 million in new resources for GSA operated child care throughout the FY 1999 appropriations cycle.
(1) CHILD CARE AND DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT
Issue: CCDBG requires states to dedicate four percent of their CCDBG allocation for activities to improve the quality of child care. Many states' child care plans contain activities that are insufficient to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Child care providers lack the information and supports necessary to effectively meet the child care needs of children with disabilities and their families. Providers that participate in the CCDBG must receive training on their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and how to access specialized technical assistance to enable them to serve any eligible child with disability. Such technical assistance may include training on how to adapt policies, practices and procedures to accommodate the needs of children with disabilities and how to make reasonable accommodations to meet the needs of parents with disabilities. The Head Start statute dedicated two percent of funds to training activities. A similar configuration is needed in the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
Action requested: Specify that two percent of CCDBG funds be directed for training child care providers and this training must include training on how to meet their responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
(2) EARLY LEARNING FUND
Issue: The President's Early Learning Fund proposes challenge grants to communities to support a variety of needed activities. Child care administrators and providers have vocalized their strong desire for training to address the unique needs of children with physical and mental disabilities and their families.
Action requested: Expand the Early Learning Fund to include training activities to address the unique needs of children with disabilities. This training may include:
(3) INCREASE INVESTMENT IN HEAD START AND DOUBLE EARLY HEAD START ENROLLMENT
Issue: The President's initiative proposes to enroll one million children in Head Start and to double the number of children enrolled in the Early Head Start program by 2002. The vast majority of children with disabilities receive their Head Start in IDEA's preschool program, that served more than 562,000 children last year. The preschool program originally proposed to provide $1,500 per child, however in FY 1997 the per child allocation was $641. Similarly, infants and toddlers with disabilities get their Early Head Start from IDEA's early intervention program, that served more than 186,000 infants and toddlers last year. The goal of the early intervention program is to serve three percent of all infants. Nationally, the program is serving 1.64 percent of all infants. To fully fund these programs, $500 million and $400 million are needed, respectively.
Action requested: The President should advocate for $500 million for the IDEA preschool program and $400 million for the IDEA early intervention program in his budget and throughout the FY 1999 appropriations cycle.
(4) CHILD CARE PROVIDER SCHOLARSHIP FUND
Issue: The President proposes a Child Care Provider Scholarship Fund. Scholarships must only be awarded for participation in qualified training programs, defined as those programs that meet state requirements and have a specific disability component.
Action requested: Clarify that qualified training programs are those that meet state requirements and have a specific disability component.
(5) NATIONAL CENTER ON CHILD CARE STATISTICS
Issue: Uniform data on child care for infants, toddlers and children with mental and physical disabilities is needed.
Action requested: The National Center on Child Care Statistics should collect uniform data on the numbers of children with disabilities in child care, the range of child care settings supporting children with disabilities, the ratio of children with disabilities to children without disabilities; the types of disabilities, and the numbers of children with disabilities on waiting lists. The Center should also examine the experiences of families of children with disabilities in accessing and maintaining appropriate child care.
(6) AFTER SCHOOL CARE
Issue: Like all children, children with disabilities need a safe place to go after school. The President's initiative enhances and expands the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program through community partnerships. Services for individuals with disabilities are among the menu of 13 activities for these grants from which applicants must choose 4. The initiative should require a certain portion of the funds in this area to partnerships that enable children with disabilities to participate with their non-disabled peers.
Action requested: The 21st Community Century Learning Center Program must dedicate a portion of funding to partnerships that will enable participation of students with disabilities.
(7) FEDERAL COORDINATION OF AFTER SCHOOL CARE
Issue: The President's initiative proposes a collaborative effort by federal agencies regarding after school programs. Agencies that administer programs for individuals with mental and physical disabilities within the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education must participate in this collaborative effort.
Action requested: Clarify the participation of federal agencies that administer disability programs.
Issue: Children with disabilities still are barred from a significant number of child care programs because of myths, fears and stereotypes. The President's initiative should include a clear statement on non-discrimination for children with disabilities.
Action requested: The President's initiative should include a clear statement that children with disabilities are entitled to equal access to child care in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Recommendations developed by, Katy Beh Neas, National Easter Seal Society, Sharon Walsh, Division for Early Childhood, Luzanne Pierce, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Donna Meltzer, American Association of University Affiliated Programs, Chris Koyanagi, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, George Jesien, Kennedy Foundation, Patty Smith, National Parent Network on Disability, Paul Marchand, The Arc, Michelle Cook, United Cerebral Palsy Associations.