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Boosting Childcare Givers? Status

With recent studies confirming problems arising from poor pay and status for childcare workers, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., last week introduced legislation to boost wages. The FOCUS Act (Focus on Committed and Underpaid Staff for Children’s Sake Act) would provide $5 billion over five years to the states for the express purpose of attracting and retaining qualified child care providers. Participation in the program would be open to full-time and part-time staff working with children in licensed child care centers, Head Start, family child care homes and school-age programs.

Each state could use its funding in the following manner:

  • Private stipends for individuals: A minimum of $1,000 per year to reward and encourage qualified child care workers to remain in their jobs. This would be a tiered program with greater stipends going to those with higher levels of education and experience. Qualifications are at least 1 program year at current job site and a CDA, AA, BA in Early Childhood Education or related field.
  • Training Scholarships: up to $1,500 per year to be used to enhance individuals’ formal training in Early Childhood Education. Qualifications are at least 1 program year at current job site.
  • Administration: Up to 10% of each state’s allotment may be used to cover the costs associated with administering the program.

State allotments would be based on the state’s number of children under 5 years old in combination with the state’s number of children eligible for the Federal School lunch program. The federal contribution to each state program would be as follows:

First year (FY2002) 90%

Second year (FY2003) 85%

Third year (FY2004) 80%

Fourth year (FY 2005) 75%

States would have to contribute the remaining portion of the program budget.

The legislation was also sponsored by Sen. Dodd (D-CT) in the Senate and Representatives Gilman (R-NY), Sanders (I-VT) and Kildee (D-MI) in the House.