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SRDC Information Brief: A Special Series on Welfare Reform in the South, n9 Nov 1999

Access to affordable, quality child care is a major barrier to successful employment for many families. About one-fifth of families return to welfare within a few months of leaving, with lack of accessible child care and transportation being the most frequently cited reasons. These issues are likely to be compounded in the rural South. Information regarding early childhood options in the rural South and the nation is limited for several reasons: different funding streams and administrative structures separate different forms of early education and care; differences in licensing regulations between states; and lack of state supported, centralized data collection. A comparison of child care capacity and rural-urban distribution of child care slots in three southern states found that child care capacity in Florida and South Carolina was largely filled by center care in metro areas, while Arkansas showed a greater mix of child care arrangements. Relative to its child population, Florida had more licensed child care centers than any other state and a growing number of programs exempt from licensing. Yet in rural Florida counties, there was only one child care slot for every four children. Federal guidelines for welfare reform have done little to increase child care subsidies, while more stringent welfare limits at the state level suggest a high likelihood that poor children will not receive quality care in their early years. Poor rural children who have special needs, are migrants, or are infants or toddlers are at greatest risk. Policy recommendations are offered. (Contains 13 endnotes.) (SV)

Descriptors: Day Care, Day Care Centers, Early Childhood Education, Employed Parents, Employment Potential, Information Needs, Poverty, Public Policy, Rural Areas, Rural Family, Rural Urban Differences, Welfare Recipients, Welfare Reform

Southern Rural Development Center, Box 9656, 410 Bost Extension Building, Mississippi State, MS 39762. For full text:

Autor: Ghazvini, Alisa S.; Mullis, Ann K.; Mullis, Ronald L.; Park, Jennifer J.


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