Skip to main content
Resolutions & Amendments

28th International Convention - Los Angeles, CA (1988)

Child Care

Resolution No. 61
28th International Convention
June 20-24, 1988
Los Angeles, CA


The availability of quality, affordable child care lags so far behind the demand for it that approximately seven million children thirteen years old and under, more than one in six, may be going without adult supervision for part of each day. The need for infant care is climbing as is the demand for before- and after-school programs. As more parents of young children work, child care needs will become an even greater problem; and


Today sixty-six percent of mothers with children under three and sixty percent of those with children ages three to five are in the labor force. By 1995, two-thirds of all preschool children — 14.6 million — and four out of five school-age children will have working mothers; and


Despite the obvious need for child care, the Reagan Administration has cut federal programs that support child care without regard to the consequences. Title XX, the largest program providing federal support directly for child care, suffered a twenty percent reduction in fiscal year 1982, and since then has received only two modest increases, not enough to offset the impact of either that cut or years of inflation. After adjusting for inflation, the federal Title XX appropriation for fiscal year 1988 is less than half that of fiscal year 1977, and approximately seventy-five percent of the fiscal year 1981 level. Child nutrition programs that provide meals to children in child care centers and family day care homes have been reduced. Nearly $130 million a year was cut from federal support for food served to children in day care centers and homes. Child care support available to poor families through the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program has been reduced. The numerous federal programs that support Head Start and its families-including AFDC, Food Stamps, Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children-have been cut; and


As a result of federal budget cuts, twenty-two states provide child care to fewer poor children now than they did six years ago and twenty-eight states cut child care funding; and


These cuts have hurt poor families particularly those headed by women. Most of the families using Title XX are headed by single women who need to work out of economic necessity. Two-thirds of women in the labor force are the sole providers for their children or have husbands who earn less than $15,000 a year. Over one-third of single parent working families live below the poverty level. Most of these families are headed by women; and


In a step backward, the federal government in 1981 abandoned its efforts to set minimum standards for child care programs that receive federal funds. Standards set by individual states vary widely and are often so inadequate they fail to provide for the most basic safety of the children in these programs; and


Both the availability and quality of child care are undermined by the low salaries offered in the child care field. Child care workers' wages actually shrank twenty-five percent from 1979 to 1986. Child care workers today are paid less per hour than animal caretakers, bartenders or parking lot attendants. Only one-half of all child care workers receive health benefits; not even one in five has a retirement plan. Low wages mean high turnover in the child care profession (42 percent in centers and 67 percent in family child care homes); and


The federal government has failed to respond to this need, and neither the states nor the private sector can take on the entire burden of providing a child care system themselves; and


The Alliance for Better Child Care, a coalition of over 124 national groups, such as unions, including AFSCME, children's organizations, churches, women and minority groups, has embarked on a campaign to pass a major national child care bill. The bill, entitled the Act for Better Child Care Services (H.R. 3660, S. 1885) will make new federal funds available to states to: 1) offer child care assistance for low- and moderate-income families; 2) encourage states to establish grants and low-interest loan programs to start and broaden child care services; 3) fund recruitment and training of new family child care providers; 4) expand Head Start and other federal preschool programs beyond part-day and part-year; 5) make funds available for developing local resource and referral programs; 6) require states to develop a plan to improve wages and benefits for child care providers; and 7) require states to meet minimum child care standards in key areas affecting children's health and well-being.


That AFSCME affiliates advocate vigorously for the enactment of the Act for Better Child Care Services and join state and local coalitions in their communities which are organizing to support the Act; and


That AFSCME International and its affiliates continue to urge the federal government to increase funds for Title XX child care, Head Start and other programs which help working parents with child care assistance; and


That AFSCME, in addition to advocating for an increased federal investment in child care, continue to fight for better child care through collective bargaining; state and local legislative initiatives; executive actions, such as task force studies of child care needs; and coalitions made up of community groups, nonprofit child care providers, unions and others.



International Executive Board

John Birnel, President
Cecilia Saari, Recording Secretary
AFSCME Local 843, Council 28
Seattle, Washington

Chuck Hicks, President and Delegate
AFSCME Local 1808
Joyce Gore, President and Delegate
AFSCME Local 2776, Council 20
Washington, D.C.