Problems in Today’s Child Care System

Even with these fairly substantial levels of investment, the child care system is not without problems. The articles by Hofferth, by Helburn and Howes, and by Stoney and Greenberg detail five major areas of concern about child care: (1) complicated funding systems that vex administrators and families, (2) limited availability of services, (3) lack of affordability, (4) poor or mediocre quality of care, and (5) a poorly paid child care work force with high turnover rates. All these factors combine to create inequities in access to high-quality services across families with different income levels.


Complicated Funding Systems


The many public funding streams for child care create complexities for child care programs, administrators, families, and Congress. For example, families and providers face varying eligibility procedures for different funding streams, inconsistent reimbursement rates across programs, and inflexible eligibility criteria that do not accommodate changing family circumstances. 11 As Stoney and Greenberg detail, these issues can mean that some low-income families receive child care subsidies while others in very similar economic circumstances do not. In addition, families sometimes must change child care programs as their categorical eligibility for child care subsidies changes, disrupting the children’s relationships with their caregivers.


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