Yesterday, my colleague Alex wrote about how the state’s Working Connections program helps working parents by making child care affordable. He’s right – but that’s only part of the story. High-quality child care is also crucial to getting children ready to succeed in school. And without Working Connections, thousands of working families simply can’t afford high-quality child care for their kids.
And while the agreement between the House, Senate and Governor has forestalled cuts to Working Connections for now, their agreement will only keep Working Connections in place through June. The long-term fate of Working Connections – and the children, parents and employers who rely on it – will be determined by the 2011-13 budget, which is still to be written.
Working Connections also keeps children out of unsafe situations. Parents aren’t faced with the no-win choice between going to work and leaving their children at home alone or in another (possibly unsafe) setting, or quitting work altogether and going on welfare.
Keeping Working Connections afloat has other benefits for our state. Both family home providers and child care centers alike operate on a thin margin. About 40% of children in the former, and a smaller percentage in the latter, are able to be there thanks to a subsidy from Working Connections. Losing that means child care workers lose hours – or their jobs – making the state’s already bleak employment picture worse. Some homes and centers might have to close, making it even harder for working parents to find high-quality child care.
In other words, by preserving Working Connections Child Care, we protect our families and our economy.