While 2023 is kicking off with federal funding increases for child care and early learning, much more needs to be done to support and sustain the child care workforce. Alongside equitable income, ensuring that providers have access to affordable health care is critical to the sustainability of the field.
It is an achievable goal. Recent reports highlight opportunities for states to provide access to health insurance for the child care workforce and others who lack employer-provided coverage. These opportunities include expanding Medicaid eligibility, promoting Marketplace coverage options for those who do not qualify for Medicaid, and covering individuals who are ineligible for Medicaid and Marketplace plans.
The good news–there have been some impressive measures to prioritize health coverage for child care providers, including family child care. In 2021, Washington state announced a new state-sponsored health insurance premium assistance program for employees of licensed child care facilities, and just this year, D.C. launched HealthCare4ChildCare for educators and employees of licensed early learning facilities to have access to free, quality, publicly-financed health coverage.
As small business owners who are self-employed, family child care educators often do not have access to employer-sponsored health coverage. Also, many family child care educators do not pay themselves a set salary, and subsist off of leftovers after their monthly expenses are paid. National data from 2019 show that of all listed family child care educators, 30 percent received health insurance through a spouse and 20 percent accessed public health insurance.
Through our long-standing work with educators in Connecticut and New York, All Our Kin hears first-hand how many family child care educators are uninsured, or insured with high deductibles that deter them from seeking care. Family child care educators, who have been decreasing in number across the country and leaving the field due to low compensation and challenging work conditions, would uniquely benefit from affordable health coverage.
All Our Kin calls on state lawmakers to ensure that health coverage is a part of publicly-funded compensation that is long overdue to family child care educators. States should explore policy opportunities to ensure affordable healthcare access for the child care workforce and should pursue effective, culturally and linguistically responsive outreach efforts to reach family child care educators who may be eligible for subsidized coverage. A healthy child care workforce is better equipped to care for and promote the healthy development of our young children.
For eligible educators seeking to purchase healthcare through the Marketplace:
Open Enrollment through healthcare.gov is available now through January 15, 2023.