Rhode Islanders Need Child Care: Facts about the Child Care Assistance Program

March 27, 2012

The majority of Rhode Island families need child care. Seventy percent (70%) of Rhode Island children under age six have all parents in the workforce, meaning that these children spend at least some time in child care. That is higher than the U.S. average of 64%1.

Child care is expensive. The average cost of care for children under age 6 in Rhode Island in 2011 was $10,266/year, more than the cost of tuition at a public college ($7,912/year in 2011-12)2.

The child care industry is a vital part of Rhode Island’s economy. There are 646 certified family home providers and 409 licensed child care centers in the state. The child care industry employs around 3,200 Rhode Islanders3.

The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is an important part of the state’s system for expanding early learning opportunities. Under the Race to the Top Initiative, the state is focusing on early learning. By providing subsidies for low- and moderate-income working families, the CCAP program helps thousands of children access early learning opportunities at quality child care providers.

Enrollment has been reduced dramatically due to budget cuts. Since 2005, when enrollment in CCAP was 12,666, enrollment has declined by 39% to 7,700 children in 2011. Over 2,000 children under the age of six lost assistance as a result of budget changes in 2006 and 2007 alone4.

State investment in child care assistance has fallen by over 80% during the last five years. In 2012, the state investment in the program is only $9.67 million, representing less than one percent (.3%) of state general revenue. Total state and federal spending for child care assistance has declined more than 41%, from $79.5 million in 2005 to $47.1 million in 20125.

Recent analysis points to the economic benefits to the state of investing in early childhood education.Studies show that investments in early childhood education yield enormous returns to society and can be an important economic development strategy.6

[1] US Census, American Community Survey, 2008-2010, 3-year estimates.
[2] Average cost of care for infant, toddler and preschool care based on the Statewide Survey of Child Care Rates in Rhode Island (2011) Bodah M.M., University of Rhode Island.  Tuition and fees for in-state full time students in 2011-12 at URI, RIC and CCRI averaged $7,912 according to the school’s websites.
[3] Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and Families, http://www.dcyf.ri.gov/day_care_provider.php. Updated Feb 28, 2012; Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, May 2010 OES Survey.
[4] Rhode Island Kids Count Factbooks 1997-2012.  Budget changes over the 2 year period included implementing a liquid asst test and child support co-operation requirements, increasing co-payments, reducing eligibility from 225% of the federal poverty level to 180% and reducing the age limit from 15 years to 12 years old.
[5] House Fiscal Advisory Staff, Rhode Island Budgets as enacted, except FY2012, which reflects the revised FY2012 spending as reported in the Governor’s FY2013 budget.
[6] New Research: Early Education as Economic Investment, Steffanie Clothier and Julie Poppe, National Conference of State Legislatures brief, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/human-services/new-research-early-education-as-economic-investme.aspx