Fact Sheet | January 2005
The Infant-Toddler Set-Aside of the Child Care and Development Block Grant: Improving Quality Child Care for Infants and
Second only to the immediate family, child care is the context in which early childhood 1development unfolds, starting in infancy. 61% of children under age 4, including 44%
of children under age 1 are in some form of regularly scheduled child care. The evidence associating the quality of infant and toddler care with early cognitive and language 2outcomes “is striking in consistency.” Furthermore, high quality child care is
associated with outcomes that all parents want to see in their children, ranging from cooperation with adults to the ability to initiate and sustain positive exchanges with peers, to early competence in math and reading -- all of which are key ingredients to later school 3success.
Research indicates that the strongest effects of quality child care are found with at-risk 4children – children from families with the fewest resources and under the greatest stress.
Yet, at-risk infants and toddlers often receive child care of such poor quality that it may actually diminish inborn potential and lead to poorer cognitive, social, and emotional 5developmental outcomes. To prevent these harmful outcomes, we must ensure that all young children have access to child care of at least adequate quality.
1. Maintain At Least a $100 Million Infant-Toddler Set-Aside. The $100
million set-aside, currently allocated through the appropriations process, has
helped states to invest in specialized infant-toddler provider training, to provide
technical assistance to programs and practitioners, and to link compensation
with training and demonstrated competence – all of which enhance quality, and
in turn, lead to later school readiness. States have great flexibility in using their
infant-toddler set-aside; however, states should ensure that set-aside funds are
being used specifically on programs and/or systems that support infants and
toddlers. For example, some states are funding infant-toddler specialists with
the help of the infant-toddler set-aside while others are funding the development
of early learning guidelines. Including an increased set-aside in the authorizing
legislation will help states expand their efforts to improve the quality of infant
and toddler child care – which will ultimately result in children who are better
prepared for school and life.
2. Increase CCDBG’s Quality Set-Aside. An increase in the quality set-aside
from four to ten percent will help to ensure that more children have access to
high quality child care experiences that are critical to their healthy development
and to later school success. These additional funds will provide the opportunity
for States to continue to support and develop innovative strategies for improving
the quality of child care.
3. Support Research on Infant-Toddler Child Care. Even though more and
more babies and toddlers are moving into out-of-home care at younger ages and
for longer periods of time, we are missing opportunities to provide them with
quality child care that promotes positive child outcomes. Funds are needed to
support research to assess infant and toddler child care quality, supply, demand
and to help states and communities determine what targeted improvement
measures make the most difference for infants and toddlers.
4. Ensure That Funding For Technical Assistance Does Not Drop Below the
2004 Base. Technical assistance helps states and communities build their
capacity to provide quality care for infants, toddlers and their families. Funding
for technical assistance should not drop below the 2004 base. Without adequate
funds for technical assistance, states will not have the resources and support they
need to improve the quality of child care for babies and toddlers.
High-quality child care translates to a child’s ability to succeed in school, to develop relationships, and to develop social competence. While hours of care, stability of care, and type of care are all associated with developmental outcomes, it is the quality of care, and in particular, the quality of the daily interactions between child care providers and 6babies and toddlers that most significantly impact development. Elements of high
quality infant-toddler child care include: small groups; high staff-to-child ratios; continuity of care; primary caregiver assignments; health and safety; and cultural and 7linguistic continuity.
• Quality Child Care Promotes Cognitive & Language Development:
Intensive, high-quality, center-based child care interventions that provide
learning experiences directly to the young child have a positive effect on early 8learning, cognitive and language development, and school achievement. One of
the features that distinguishes higher-quality care is the amount of language
stimulation provided. High-quality child care where providers are both
supportive and offer more verbal stimulation create an environment where 9children are likely to show more advanced cognitive and language development.
• Quality Child Care Promotes Social & Emotional Development: For
virtually every developmental outcome that has been assessed, quality of care 10shows positive associations with early social and emotional development.
Higher quality care is generally related to more competent peer relationships
during early childhood and into the school years. It provides environments and
opportunities for socialization, problem-solving, empathy building, sharing and
• Quality Child Care Contributes to Later School Success: Studies that
examine children’s development over time have shown that higher quality child
care is a predictor of improvement in children’s receptive language and
functional communication skills, verbal IQ skills, cognitive skills, behavioral
skills, and attainment of higher math and receptive language scores – all of which 11impact later school success. Research also indicates that participants in high
quality child care and early education programs may also experience lower levels 12of grade retention and placement in special education classrooms.
• Specialized Training Leads to Quality Child Care: National research
underscores that quality child care is contingent upon the special training that 13 Both caregivers receive in the profession of early childhood development.
formal education levels and recent, specialized training in child development
have been found quite consistently to be associated with high-quality interactions 14and children’s development. Teachers with a Child Development Associate
(CDA) provide higher quality early learning experiences than those with only a
high school diploma. And teachers with college degrees provide superior early 15learning experiences.
• Low-Income Children Receive Some of the Poorest-Quality Child Care That
Exists in the United States. When child care is of very high quality (as is the
case with model early intervention programs) the positive effects can endure into
the early adult years, particularly for children from the poorest home 16environments. Yet, at-risk infants and toddlers often receive child care of such
poor quality that it may actually diminish inborn potential and lead to poorer 17cognitive, social, and emotional developmental outcomes. With a
comprehensive early childhood program such as Early Head Start reaching only
3 percent of all eligible infants and toddlers, poor quality child care has become
the “norm” for low-income infants and toddlers. Therefore, the many babies who 18can benefit the most from high-quality child care are unlikely to receive it.
• Each day, an estimated six million children under age three spend some or all of 19their day being cared for by someone other than their parents. 20• 61 percent of mothers with children under age three are in the workforce.
• About one-third of infants and toddlers in both single and two-parent families are
in two or more non-parental child care arrangements.
• Of more than 400 centers studied in four states, only 8 percent of infant
classrooms were of good or excellent quality. Forty percent of infant programs 21were rated as having poor quality.
• The NICHD Study of Early Child Care found that 3 out of 4 infant caregivers 22provided only minimal stimulation of cognitive and language development.
• The cost of providing infant/toddler child care can be as high as $12,000 23annually.
• The cost of providing developmentally appropriate care is only 10 percent higher 24than the cost of providing mediocre care.
ZERO TO THREE Policy Center is a non-partisan, research-based, nonprofit organization committed to promoting the healthy development of our nation’s infants and toddlers. To learn more about this topic, or about the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center, please contact us at 202-638-1144 or on the Web at www.zerotothree.org/policy.
1 Shonkoff J., and Phillips, D. (Eds.) (2000). National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC:
National Academy Press.
2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. 7 Lally, R., Griffin, A., Fenichel, E., Segal, M., Szanton, E., and Weissbourd, B. (1995). Caring for Infants and Toddlers in Groups, Developmentally Appropriate Practice. Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE. 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid. 10 Ibid. 11 United States General Accounting Office, States Have Undertaken a Variety of Quality
Improvement Initiatives, but More Evaluations of Effectiveness are Needed. (GAO-02-897).
September, 2002. 12 Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Early Learning, Later Success, The Abecedarian Study, Executive Summary, 2000. 13 National Research Council. (2001). Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers. Washington,
DC: National Academy Press. 14 Shonkoff J., and Phillips, D. (Eds.) (2000). National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC:
National Academy Press. 15 National Research Council (2001). Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers. Washington,
DC: National Academy Press. 16 Shonkoff J., and Phillips, D. (Eds.) (2000). National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC:
National Academy Press. 17 National Research Council (2001). Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers. Washington,
DC: National Academy Press. 18 Shonkoff J., and Phillips, D. (Eds.) (2000). National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC:
National Academy Press. 19 Ehrle, J., Adams, G., and Tout, T. Who’s Caring for our youngest children: Child care
patterns of infants and toddlers. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, 2001. 20 Phillips, D. and Adams, G. “Child Care and Our Youngest Children.” Caring for Infants and Toddlers, Packard Journal 2001. 21 Cost, Quality and Child Outcomes Study Team. Cost, Quality and Child Outcomes in Child ndCare Centers, Public Report, 2 edition. (Denver Economics Department, University of Colorado
at Denver, 1995). 22 NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. Characteristics of infant child care: Factors contributing to positive caregiving. Early Childhood Research Quarterly (1996) 11 (3): 269-306. 23 Schulman, Karen. The High Cost of Child Care Puts Quality Care Out of Reach for Many
Families. Washington, DC: Children's Defense Fund, 2000. 24 Cost, Quality and Child Outcomes Study Team. Cost, Quality and Child Outcomes in Child ndCare Centers, Public Report, 2 edition. (Denver Economics Department, University of Colorado
at Denver, 1995).