Saturday, September 18, 2010

Preschool/Childcare Working Group Update

Earlier this year, I assembled a working group to focus on expanding preschool access and quality childcare in the U.S. 1 corridor. We had our third meeting this past week.

As of today, there are approximately 3,800 Fairfax County children waiting for subsidized childcare. Childcare centers in the U.S. 1 corridor have recently closed because there are not enough families who can afford high quality childcare.

There are at least fourteen preschools on the west side of U.S. 1 in my district. There are zero on the west side. There are a handful of licensed at home childcare providers on the east side and dozens on the west. The provision of childcare in the 44th District is starkly different depending on where you live.

We also learned that the capital costs for starting a new childcare center are significant. Childcare centers have to be built to burn-proof standards with extraordinarily safe building standards - effectively the same standards as hospital. Given these costs, the limitations on labor costs, and families' limited ability to afford childcare, the costs of entry into the childcare market are extraordinarily high. Government subsidies are needed to expand preschool and childcare opportunities.

We are focusing on legislative solutions in the following areas:
  • Lowering the local government match required to access state funds for subsidized childcare.
  • Requiring a biennial rebenchmarking of childcare payment rates for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
  • Providing real estate tax exemption for all non-profit childcare center.
  • Creating a fund to provide low-interest loans for capital improvements to non-profit childcare facilities.
  • Monitor proposed state rules to limit subsidized childcare to familes for five-year period and require enrollment in DCSE for unmarried recipient families.
  • Expand availability of parenting mentoring programs.
If you have any feedback for our Working Group please post it up here or send me an email at


  1. A legislative solution you do not list here is to note which of these overbearing government regulations are the barriers to entry and eliminate or modify them. Do we really need the same standards as hospitals? I think not. Do we even need the same standards as schools? I think not. Given the ratio of adult to child in a daycare center is significantly less than adult-to-child in a school, we can expect real people to help our children avoid danger.

    The solution is not always to throw dollars (read -- taxpayer money) at an issue.

    Another solution is to allow known "hazards" i.e. "this building is not earthquake-proof" to exist, spelled out in the contract. Parents deserve to determine how much risk they're willing to accept. As it stands, children as young as kindergarten are surviving as latchkey kids due to overbearing regulations driving costs up.

  2. Great post with lots of really good information!

    Child Care Services