The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services (NACRHHS) has released a new policy brief, Childcare Need & Availability in Rural Areas.
The NACRHHS advises the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services on health & human service challenges in rural America. The Committee members offer the following policy recommendations for rural childcare access and availability:
Recommendation One: The Committee recommends the Secretary assess which Public Health Emergency
(PHE) waivers should be extended to expand access to childcare services in rural areas.
Recommendation Two: The Committee recommends the Secretary consider creating a Childcare
Shortage Area (CCSA) designation similar to the Health Professions Shortage Area designation (HPSA)
to inform future policymaking about childcare supply, access and affordability.
Recommendation Three: The Committee recommends the Secretary support organizations that serve
minority and rural populations, such as Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCUs) tribal colleges,
community colleges, Community Health Workers (CHWs), Colonias community leaders, and tribal leaders
by funding them to 1) help increase recruitment to early childhood education programs among rural
African American, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaskan Native residents3 and 2) expand outreach and
programmatic elements in early childhood education. To the extent possible, the Office of Childcare, in
ACF should work with tribal leaders to collect data on tribal childcare capacity and need.
Recommendation Four: The Committee recommends that, whenever possible, the Secretary allow for
expansion of Head Start program capacity in communities with newly created or expanded Early Head
Start programs to allow for continuity of education from Early Head Start through entry into kindergarten.
Recommendation Five: The Committee recommends the Secretary work with USDA, the Commerce
Department, and the Federal Communications Commission to help rural home-based childcare providers
gain access to high-speed, low-cost broadband services for training and education.
Recommendation Six: The Committee recommends the Secretary extend the Qualification Waiver for
Head Start Preschool Teachers (ACF-IM-HS-22-06) to Early Head Start programs who face similar
difficulties with recruiting qualified teachers as it applies to waiving the CDA requirement. Extending this
waiver would allow Early Head Start programs to immediately enroll infant and toddler teachers in a CDG
program and provide initial training prior to entering the classroom.
Recommendation Seven: The Committee recommends the Secretary ensure both ACF’s Office of Head
Start and Office of Childcare provide the necessary flexibility and support to rural providers that allow
them to develop programs to train parents and community members, and provide support to obtain
required childcare licenses and degrees.