Ability to work and to sustain long-term employment is critically linked to availability of child care. The lack of accessible and affordable child care is one of the most serious barriers on Indian reservations to transitioning long-term welfare recipients from welfare into full-time work. Most of the sites visited as part of this study had a shortage of licensed and high-quality family and group child care facilities that could meet the varied needs of WtW participants. Particular problems are encountered in finding care within reasonable travel time of either the participant's home or work. In addition, finding care for individuals who have variable work schedules or who work evening/night shifts can often be challenging.
Tribal programs need to assess availability of child care for tribal members (including those with special needs) and may need to become actively involved in promoting expansion of supply and in ensuring that referrals for quality care are made in a timely manner. Several WtW grantees included in this study have trained TANF recipients to become licensed child care providers. If WtW programs do sponsor such training initiatives, however, they should be carefully structured. One potential problem associated with training TANF recipients to become qualified child care providers, especially for home-based child care, is that substandard housing of some TANF recipients might require extensive, time-consuming, and expensive renovations to comply with federal, state, or tribal standards. In addition, a home-based child care provider might not be able to generate enough income to achieve long-term self-sufficiency, and there are limited opportunities for advancement within the child care field.