What Happens When Workforce Development Boards Consider Child Care Needs?

Posted September 12, 2018
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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