Child Care Quality:

States' Difficulties Enforcing Standards Confront Welfare Reform Plans

T-HEHS-94-99: Published: Feb 11, 1994. Publicly Released: Feb 11, 1994.

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GAO discussed states' efforts to protect children and promote quality child care, focusing on: (1) trends in the supply and demand of child care; (2) the definition of quality child care; (3) state child care enforcement activities; and (4) the possible effects of welfare reform on child care and state enforcement efforts. GAO noted that: (1) states' ability to ensure quality child care and protect children in child care is limited due to the increasing demand for child care; (2) quality child care consists of care that protects children's safety and health and is enriching and developmentally appropriate; (3) states set child care standards, screen prospective providers, conduct on-site monitoring, and impose sanctions to protect children and promote quality care; (4) although on-site monitoring is the most effective tool states have for overseeing child care, monitoring activities have been significantly reduced because of budget cutbacks and increased caseloads; (5) states have adjusted to financial constraints and supplemented screening, monitoring, and sanctioning efforts by focusing on preventive strategies such as provider training and parent education; and (6) welfare reform will likely increase the demand for quality child care and further reduce state enforcement resources.

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