We talk a lot about helping families secure safe, affordable childcare when they are with us at Family Promise. Being able to access childcare is one of the keys to maintaining permanent housing. Once childcare is in place, parents can look for work, participate in job training, further their education, maintain employment and take part in programs designed to help them become self-sufficient.
Currently, it is difficult for families who are homeless to find childcare that meets their needs and their budgets. To be effective, childcare programs need to be:
- Easily accessible
- Able to meet the irregular, unpredictable work hours of homeless families including nights and weekends
- Within their budget
- Flexible regarding attendance, documentation and eligibility requirements
Why is this important? Besides the obvious effect of allowing parents to work, quality childcare gives children a sense of stability and a place to learn and grow. A child’s brain is developing very rapidly when they are young. In fact, 80 percent of brain development happens by age 3 and 90 percent by age 5. High quality childcare creates a strong foundation for the skills children need in order to be successful in school and later in life.
Each state determines its own eligibility requirements, the number of hours families need to work and the complexity of the application and documentation required. The sad reality is that only 1 in 6 of those families eligible for a childcare subsidy actually receive one.
There is much to be done in the area of childcare in order to make it accessible to all preschoolers. We must keep the pressure on our state and county government to prioritize homelessness with regard to childcare placement and affordability.
Remember, family homelessness doesn’t take a summer vacation. Check our website for the many ways you can support Family Promise in the coming months.