Using the State Fact Sheets for Advocacy

By Jessica Tercha, Director of Research and Chrisi West, Director of Advocacy

One of the most exciting things about working for an organization like Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) is the incredible emphasis put on research to drive policy “asks” and advocacy efforts. We spend a lot of time hashing out the best language to use to be sure that our messaging is relevant, appropriate, and research-informed. For the research team, there’s nothing like knowing that the reports and analyses we pore over are actually being read. However, the tremendous network of advocates who go to CCAoA for resources do more than read — they take action! For this post, research is collaborating with Child Care Works to give you some ideas on how to use CCAoA’s most recent, research-based resources to advocate for change.

Our most recent release, our 2018 annual State Fact Sheets, were many months in the making and would not be possible without the help of CCR&Rs and other key stakeholders across the country each year. These 1–2 page mini reports highlight relevant child care supply and demand statistics, the breadth and type of child care referrals done by CCR&Rs and the status of each state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). Every state has its own unique child care landscape — the state fact sheets provide a snapshot of what’s going on. The State Fact Sheets are a brief, yet valuable, resource to take with you when you talk to your state, local, or federal legislators.

Making your legislative ask

Share your personal story, or the story of a family you know, and back it up with statistics from your state’s fact sheet to help you make your case. That’s the formula for an effective legislative request — marrying the personal with the factual and then pivoting to the “ask”.

Your legislative ask, for example, could be for more funding for CCDBG in FY 2019. As an early childhood educator, you could make the case that some of that CCDBG funding should be allocated to professional development, training, and increased pay for early educators and providers. According to the 2018 State Fact Sheets, in Virginia the annual income for a child care worker is $23,820, just above the national average of $22,290 for a child care worker. This is a poverty-level wage across the country for people who are educating our littlest learners. No provider could be expected to support him/herself and their family on that salary.

You may also choose to share the personal story of a family you’ve worked with (*unidentified to protect their privacy of course) that wasn’t able to access child care and had one parent leave the workforce due to lack of affordable, safe options in their area. In Colorado, you could then use your state’s fact sheet to show that child care for just one infant in your state can cost an average of $14,960 per year in a center, or $10,522 a year in a family child care home. It’s easy to show that the cost of child care is unaffordable in your state, even with just one child potentially in need of care.

Use the data to support your requests and to supplement the individual stories you see as you work with providers and parents each day. It will bolster your ask and provide lawmakers with a reason to support your issue.

And, of course, spread the word over social media by sharing graphics from our share kit.

With just a few steps a week or a month, depending on your schedule, you can make a big difference in getting kids, families, and educators the public funding they need.

Here are some other ways to stay involved:

* Visit our Child Care Works Action Center and make your voice heard to your legislators on issues like CCDBG funding, SNAP benefits, and disaster planning for child care centers.

* Join the movement for quality, affordable child care for all families by signing the Child Care Works pledge! You’ll receive occasional email updates on ways to take action.

You can make a difference in the lives of children and families by contacting your elected officials using the research-based tools and resources we work hard to share. With your help we can improve the quality, affordability, and availability of child care so that all children can start school ready to learn.

Get ready for our upcoming Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2018 report! If you’re not familiar with our seminal report on the average statewide cost of child care, check out last year’s report and offerings here. Our team is already hard at work updating the interactive map and finalizing analyses for this year’s report. We’re releasing our 2018 Cost of Child Care updates in October this year so you can be informed before the 2018 midterm elections — and we’re committed to keeping the conversation about affordable child care going strong through the midterm elections. We want to be sure that every candidate has a plan for making quality child care affordable for all families.