Child Care State Reports . III. Gaps in Child Care Supply [8]

12/01/1999

  • Not all providers in Delaware accept children who receive subsidies. Of the providers registered with The Family and Workforce Connection, a statewide child care resource and referral agency, 68 percent of centers, 54 percent of family child care homes, and 41 percent of group child care homes accept subsidies. It is harder to find accredited providers who serve subsidized children; 45 percent of accredited centers and 40 percent of accredited family homes accept subsidized children.
    • According to the state plan for 1997-1999, maximum reimbursement rates in Delaware are capped at the 75th percentile of market rate, based on a 1996 market rate survey. Providers may be unwilling to accept subsidized children, or may limit their enrollment, when the state reimbursement rates are lower than their prices (see the example in section II). As a result, families receiving subsidies may have limited choices of caregivers.
  • Staff from the resource and referral agency report shortages in the supply of many types of care in Delaware. Staff believe that the most severe areas of need are for infant care, school-age care, care during odd hours and care for children who have special needs or are ill. Specifically:
    • Infant care is hard to find in Delaware because many child care centers begin caring for children at the age of two years. Some centers accept infants, but not those who receive a subsidy. In particular, there are critical shortages of infant care in the City of Wilmington and in areas with many corporate employers.
    • In 1998, there were no centers providing care for sick children registered with the statewide child care resource and referral agency in Delaware, down from four in 1996.
    • School-age care is available through school-based programs in only 59 percent of public schools in Delaware. Some school districts do not have any programs. School-based programs tend to target elementary grades, while middle school children are more likely to be left home alone. In areas where care is available, school districts will not transport children from schools without after-school programs to off-site programs.
    • Care during odd hours is particularly needed in Wilmington, Dover, and Sussex County, Delaware, where employees have rotating or split shifts in poultry plants or banks.