What Happens When Workforce Development Boards Consider Child Care Needs?

Posted September 12, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Children playing

Chiaki Kawajiri for the Casey Foundation

For many low-income par­ents — espe­cial­ly par­ents in their late teens or ear­ly twen­ties — the absence of afford­able, qual­i­ty child care can push dreams of con­tin­u­ing school or land­ing a fam­i­ly-sus­tain­ing job far out of reach.

One poten­tial dif­fer­ence mak­er? Work­force devel­op­ment boards — a net­work of fed­er­al, state and local offices that sup­port eco­nom­ic expan­sion and devel­op the tal­ent of the nation’s work­force. By con­sid­er­ing a job-seeker’s child care needs, these boards can sup­port the edu­ca­tion and train­ing goals of low-income par­ents, accord­ing to a pair of stud­ies fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Both stud­ies, part of the Urban Institute’s Bridg­ing the Gap series, exam­ine the oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges that local work­force devel­op­ment boards face when widen­ing their scope to include an individual’s child care needs.

Draw­ing on more than 150 sur­vey respons­es from staff at work­force boards across the coun­try, the first study, Fam­i­ly-Cen­tered Approach­es to Work­force Devel­op­ment Ser­vices, explores the bar­ri­ers that low-income par­ents expe­ri­ence and what the pub­lic work­force sys­tem is cur­rent­ly doing to help.

Among oth­er strate­gies, local work­force devel­op­ment boards are:

  • form­ing part­ner­ships with com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing child care resource and refer­ral agen­cies, Unit­ed Way, Vol­un­tary Income Tax Assis­tance providers and health cen­ters, to con­nect par­ents with a more com­pre­hen­sive suite of services;
  • pro­vid­ing child-care and trans­porta­tion sub­si­dies; and
  • requir­ing affil­i­at­ed career cen­ters to put fam­i­ly-friend­ly poli­cies, includ­ing spe­cial sched­ul­ing accom­mo­da­tions, in place.

To pro­mote these approach­es and strength­en the sup­port that low-income par­ents receive, the report rec­om­mends that local work­force boards:

  • col­lect more data about par­tic­i­pat­ing par­ents and their chil­dren to design and imple­ment ser­vices that meet the entire family’s needs;
  • expand non­govern­men­tal part­ner­ships to tap into addi­tion­al resources; and
  • blend foun­da­tion grants with fed­er­al, state and local fund­ing to pro­vide a con­tin­u­um of sup­port ser­vices for par­ents and oth­er indi­vid­u­als who face sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers to employment.

The sec­ond report, Local Work­force Devel­op­ment Boards and Child Care, leans on inter­views with admin­is­tra­tors from five local work­force devel­op­ment boards across the coun­try to bet­ter under­stand how they han­dle child care chal­lenges. These five sites are: Larimer Coun­ty Eco­nom­ic and Work­force Devel­op­ment in Col­orado; Career­Source in Broward Coun­ty, Flori­da; the North­ern Indi­ana Work­force Board; Work­force Solu­tions of Cen­tral Texas; and North Cen­tral Skill­Source in Washington.

These admin­is­tra­tors iden­ti­fied real-world obsta­cles — such as fund­ing lim­i­ta­tions and an inad­e­quate child care mar­ket — that impede their efforts to pro­vide child care sup­port to parents.

To address these bar­ri­ers, their work­force devel­op­ment boards are part­ner­ing with com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions that admin­is­ter Child Care and Devel­op­ment Block Grant and Tem­po­rary Assis­tance for Needy Fam­i­lies (TANF) funds. They’re also using fed­er­al Work­force Inno­va­tion and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Act fund­ing to pro­vide wrap­around ser­vices to par­ents and their children.

Such moves demon­strate the poten­tial impact that local work­force devel­op­ment boards can have if they make meet­ing the child care needs of their clients a high­er pri­or­i­ty,” accord­ing to the report.

Learn more about bridg­ing the child­care gap

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