How Much Have We Lost?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fairfax County Still Leads in Childcare Waiting Lists

As I wrote last week in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, preschool and affordable childcare are approaching crisis in the 44th District as our schools continue to struggle.  How did we get here?  

The Clinton Administration saw significant reforms to what was then called "Welfare" programs.  Welfare was renamed "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families" or TANF.  One of the major reforms was that parents were expected to work if they wanted to continue to receive TANF benefits.

Given that many parents lacked job skills to earn living wages, the cost of childcare was frequently more than the net income a parent could earn working.  The account for this, the government began paying for childcare subsidies so that parents could work and develop job skills.  The New York Times wrote an excellent summary of the problem here:





Subsidized childcare programs are funded by both the state and local governments. Virginia has not increased the amount paid for childcare subsidies in years.  Additionally, Virginia has not fully funded its subsidized childcare obligations in years.  The current backlog would cost over $71 million per year to fund.

Some localities "over match" their programs to ensure they do not have waiting lists.  Some do not - including Fairfax County.  This results in waiting lists. 

The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area has some of the highest child care costs in the United States:


High quality childcare programs also serve as pre-kindergarten education programs.  Before our third child was born, our daughters went to the Bryant Early Learning Center (BEL Center) which is run by United Community Ministries (UCM).  The BEL Center has a mix of paying parents and parents whose care was subsidized.  Children there received pre-K education as part of the care provided.  I saw first-hand the benefit these programs have for children.

There's no question the Commonwealth is not living up to its end of the bargain on childcare services.  However, even though Fairfax County only has 17% of the state's population, regularly runs $50 million annual budget surpluses, and has a large number of "Super Zip Codes" with incomes that are triple the national average, it has 27% of the children waiting to receive childcare services.  

Arlington County has 2.7% of the state's population and 0.94% of the children on the waiting list.  Loudoun County has 4.2% of Virginia's population and 2.99% of the children on the list.  The bulk of Fairfax County's waiting list are children in the 44th District. 

Here is the entire list below that was provided to me by the state about two months ago.  Draw your own conclusions.  In the meantime, I will continue to fight to increase Virginia's appropriations for childcare services.


VA Subsidized Childcare Waiting List by Locality
Locality # of Families # of Children % of Entire List
Fairfax County (059) 2,504 3903 27.41%
Prince William County (153) 862 1549 10.88%
Chesapeake City (550) 581 986 6.92%
Newport News City (700) 468 777 5.46%
Richmond City (760) 353 615 4.32%
Norfolk City (710) 354 603 4.23%
Henrico County (087) 356 584 4.10%
Stafford County (179) 242 434 3.05%
Alexandria City (510) 311 433 3.04%
Loudoun County (107) 264 426 2.99%
Chesterfield County (041) 227 410 2.88%
Hampton City (650) 220 367 2.58%
Roanoke City (770) 159 249 1.75%
Portsmouth City (740) 136 229 1.61%
Caroline County (033) 74 135 0.95%
Arlington County (013) 92 134 0.94%
Fredericksburg City (630) 80 131 0.92%
Roanoke County (161) 74 129 0.91%
James City County (095) 67 122 0.86%
Hopewell City (670) 59 118 0.83%
Manassas City (683) 62 118 0.83%
Frederick County (069) 61 105 0.74%
Culpeper County (047) 61 102 0.72%
Suffolk City (800) 65 98 0.69%
Spotsylvania County (177) 58 90 0.63%
Charlottesville City (540) 57 89 0.63%
Warren County (187) 50 89 0.63%
Danville City (590) 47 78 0.55%
Harrisonburg City (660) 48 74 0.52%
Albemarle County (003) 40 62 0.44%
Essex County (057) 31 52 0.37%
Hanover County (085) 31 50 0.35%
Washington County (191) 33 48 0.34%
Montgomery County (121) 34 47 0.33%
Salem City (775) 30 46 0.32%
Isle of Wight County (093) 23 43 0.30%
Augusta County (015) 27 40 0.28%
Bedford County (019) 20 37 0.26%
Manassas Park City (685) 21 37 0.26%
Franklin County (067) 18 36 0.25%
Prince Edward County (147) 20 33 0.23%
Petersburg City (730) 21 31 0.22%
Gloucester County (073) 20 28 0.20%
Amherst County (009) 18 27 0.19%
Staunton City (790) 16 27 0.19%
Waynesboro City (820) 15 27 0.19%
Greene County (079) 15 25 0.18%
Powhatan County (145) 13 23 0.16%
King and Queen County (097) 15 22 0.15%
King George County (099) 14 21 0.15%
Fairfax City (600) 15 20 0.14%
Giles County (071) 12 20 0.14%
Rockingham County (165) 12 20 0.14%
New Kent County (127) 12 19 0.13%
Northampton County (131) 13 19 0.13%
Shenandoah County (171) 11 17 0.12%
Williamsburg City (830) 10 17 0.12%
Colonial Heights City (570) 8 16 0.11%
Amelia County (007) 8 13 0.09%
Fauquier County (061) 9 13 0.09%
Clarke County (043) 8 10 0.07%
Louisa County (109) 5 9 0.06%
Virginia Beach City (810) 5 9 0.06%
Campbell County (031) 6 8 0.06%
Botetourt County (023) 7 7 0.05%
Fluvanna County (065) 4 7 0.05%
Rappahannock County (157) 4 7 0.05%
Richmond County (159) 3 6 0.04%
Charles City County (036) 3 5 0.04%
Franklin City (620) 3 5 0.04%
Bedford City (515) 3 4 0.03%
Cumberland County (049) 1 3 0.02%
Falls Church City (610) 2 3 0.02%
Goochland County (075) 3 3 0.02%
Middlesex County (119) 2 2 0.01%
Radford City (750) 1 2 0.01%
Lynchburg City (680) 1 1 0.01%
York County (199) 1 1 0.01%
State Totals 8,662 14,239 100.00%

2 comments:

  1. It would free up space if Fairfax County were to do away with its asinine and arbitrary rules about how many individuals a private-home provider can care for. Making a determination based on whether a dwelling is an apartment or single-family home, without regard to square footage, additional providers, or parents' discretion further compounds the problem.

    For my son, private care is/was the only way to go -- his condition means a day-care center is too "busy" for him. Other children thrive better in the smaller environment, or with a provider they come to know as well as family, and parents can judge the quality of the provider and his/her curriculum at least as well as a bureaucracy can.

    Please consider this in your advocacy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There was a change a year or so ago in Richmond that changed the way in-home child care providers are licensed. Previously providers in Fairfax just had to meet the state regulations, and the state would grant their license. Now the state is requiring meeting local requirements as well. What this means is that properly staffed in-home provider previously could handle up to 12 children. Now, the maximum is 10 children, though that requires jumping through additional hoops to jump through, otherwise it is (I believe) 8 children. I'm not sure how many child care slots that one regulation change made removed in Fairfax County, but it is significant.

    Thankfully, the county has been working with the providers and allowing them to get there gradually through normal attrition, but it still removes child care slots while also generally raising costs for parents. There is some movement towards making Fairfax County regulations match the state regulations, but that is a slow process.

    ReplyDelete

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