Not the Naughty or Nice List but the Wait List

In October, Voices for America’s Children sent a petition to Congress demanding that childcare be a priority. Based on a report from the National Women’s Law Center, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2011: Reduced Support for Families in Challenging Times, Voices incorporated one of their distinct infographics to illustrate the growing number of children on waiting lists around the country.

Based on the data, the District of Columbia would not actually have an infographic because the Division of Early Childhood Education does not maintain an official waiting list for subsidized childcare.

Unfortunately, that is only one side to the story. The lack of an official waiting list doesn’t mean that all families can find childcare.  According to the 2010 District of Columbia Child Care Market Rates and Capacity Utilization Survey, conducted by the University of the District of Columbia, 10,377 names were on waiting lists maintained by providers, down from 13,196 in 2008. The authors acknowledge that while some names may be duplicates, “the list has doubled during the past decade.” The survey also reports that DC providers are only operating at 82% capacity while they were operating at 86% in 2008.

These figures indicate that, despite a great need for their services, providers are unable to operate at full licensed capacity. As we head into 2012, and turn our attention to the local and Federal budgets, our leaders must focus on investments in our children.

Next month, I will be producing a snapshot of the D.C. childcare market and the case for increasing subsidies. So, be on the lookout!