Sacred Places, Civic Purposes: Child Care Conference
E.J. DIONNE, JR., MODERATOR: Welcome everyone. We have an incredibly impressive audience. I don’t know if you’ve seen the list. Not only put together a good panel, but many of you folks in the audience know more about this field than I do and lots of other people in our country. And I’m grateful that you all joined together today for this discussion. Floyd Flake is probably stuck hovering over National Airport and so we will welcome the reverend and former congressman Floyd Flake when he gets here. But we have such a good panel here today that I would like to get this discussion going.
I want to begin, first of all, by thanking Ming Hsu and Joan Lombardi without whom this event couldn’t have happened. Many of you have been in touch with Ming and she’s done extraordinary work. So, she’s in charge of the successes of the event and I’m in charge of the failures. And so many of you know Joan’s work. She has been indispensable. When I am finished, I will turn it over to Joan for a brief introduction, and then she’ll turn it over to Mary Bogle.
I would also like to welcome a couple of people from the Pew Trust, who have supported this work, or, as I like to refer to them, St. Pew. Julie Bundt is attending in place of Louis Lugo, who has a meeting at Pew. I also want to thank Andrea McDaniel, Amy Sullivan, Andrew Witmer for doing a lot of work to pull this together. Andrew and Amy are associated with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, our sister organization. You can find information on our past work either at the Brookings Web site – www.brookings.edu – and look for the Sacred Places project. Also, you can look at the www.pewforum.org site, which has a lot of interesting material on it in this sphere.
You know, I was talking about how many of you are experts in this audience. One of my favorite political stories is about Al Smith, who was being heckled at an event. Somebody in the back of the room said, “Tell them all you know, Al. It won’t take long.” And Al Smith, being a clever guy, looked at the heckler and said, “I’ll tell them all we both know and it won’t take longer.” And I always think I should sit down after I’ve said that and I will very, very shortly.
I just want to put today’s conference in context. We have been doing the Sacred Places, Civic Purposes Project for a couple of years now. This subject is very, very much in the news now, but for us it started a few years back. John DiIulio, who is now in the White House office but was at that time here at Brookings, John and I organized some fascinating meetings on this subject. What became clear early on in those discussions is that people retreat too quickly into first principles when they talk about issues of faith and public life. It’s almost as if every issue in this sphere is dealt the same passion and lack of comity, if you will, as say the school vouchers issue. So, the Sacred Places project grew out of the following idea: if we are going to have a constructive discussion on the issue of government partnerships with faith-based institutions, we need to step back and actually look at the problems that these institutions are engaged in trying to solve, see what is working out there, and look at all the many good things that are happening. And then, and only then, should we get to the question of what should government do to help? What should government not do in order not to hurt these organizations? And where is it appropriate, for constitutional or other reasons, for government to step aside?
And so we have had meetings on the issues of crime, teen pregnancy, neighborhood economic development, and education. Just so you know, our education discussion was not about vouchers. I thought that there were more than enough vouchers projects in the country. We actually focused on the things that the congregations, the houses of worship, do to help parents and children, especially in public school. There’s an interesting area of work going on out there that’s largely overlooked because it is so overshadowed by the fierce and important debate over vouchers.
Just a housekeeping note before I turn it over to Joan. You will not have to sit and listen to everyone on this panel before you have a chance to speak. After a couple of respondents, I’d like to go to the audience to have some comments or questions and then we’ll go back to the panel. I want to intermingle the audience and the panel. I’ve found at meetings that the worst thing is to sit there for a long time and never have any hope that you will get your voice in the conversation. So, that’s how we’re going to organize it today.
Two lines before I turn it over to Joan. I am struck by how similar both of these papers are in the way they begin. Mary Bogle makes the point that the provision of child care in sacred places is not a small phenomenon, nor is it a new one. And in the Davie-Le Menestrel-Murphy paper, there is the line, “Why is something that has been going on for so long being viewed by so many as a brand new idea?” And I think both of those frame this discussion in a very useful way.
And now, let me finally introduce the panel, just so you know. I will give brief introductions. I believe your packets include longer biographies. Mary Bogle, who will be giving the paper today, is the former executive director of Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families. And as you know, that group has been involved in this field for a long time in a very, very constructive way.
Then, we also have on our panel of respondents: Judith Appelbaum, the vice president of the National Women’s Law Center; Carol Burnett, director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative and former Director of the Office for Children and Youth in Mississippi’s Department of Human Services; Floyd Flake, a former member of Congress and the pastor of the Allen AME Church will be with us shortly; Deborah Hampton is executive director of the Ecumenical Child Care Network; Lisbeth Schorr, whose writings on this have taught us all so much, is the director of the Harvard Project on Effective Interventions. Also, I’m sad to announce that Don Eberly called late yesterday afternoon and said that he had a scheduling conflict and could not come today. I want you to know that. Finally, I turn to the person who has taught I think everybody in this room at some point, either formally or informally, and has certainly taught us a lot in putting this conference together. Joan Lombardi. Thank you so much.
JOAN LOMBARDI: Well, thank you, E.J. Thank you for your leadership and for including this topic in this current debate. We’re often forgotten as a topic, and we are thrilled that you could pull this together.
What I want to do this morning is get us on the same page around child care issues. As you may notice in the papers, there is overlap across the two papers. However, child care is often divided into early childhood and after-school, and the papers are going to fall out a little bit like that. I want go over some basic facts about child care so that we’re all on the same page. This is census data; the latest census data. Our latest data is still from 1995. Nineteen million children are under the age of five; 75 percent of them now. 14 million children are in some form of regular child care in the typical week; that’s not just working families. Eleven million children with employed parents or parents are in school; 3 million with non-employed parents. Half the children are cared for by non-relatives. About 30 percent of the children are in center-based care. That’s primarily what we’re going to be talking about today. The average number of hours children are in care: 29 hours a week in their primary arrangement, although many children are in multiple arrangements. Children of working parents are in care up to 40 hours a week or more.
Just a minute on the economics of this. About 41 percent of the care is paid. We’re averaging about $85 per week for care. However, this has masked the difficulty of this issue for low-income families. Average families pay about 7 percent of their income for child care. Low income pay five times more, 35 percent of their budget for child care. The economics of this issue can’t miss-and it’s in the papers today-the issue of salaries. Average salaries [in child care] being about $6 an hour, $6 or $7 an hour, we have a terrible problem these days recruiting and retaining staff. On the school-age side: We’ve got about 24 million children with parents who are either working or in school. It’s estimated that we’ve got about 5 million to 7 million children that are unsupervised or up to 15 million on any given day. The data around program and supply is very old. We know from the Department of Education data that there are about 50,000 after-school programs, but it’s only serving a small percentage of the families.
Throughout the day, we’re going to be talking about public funding. Just to remind everybody, if you look at federal funding and direct funding, not tax provisions, there are three big pots. And the reason there are differences is how the funding of these programs is actually implemented. The majority of the funding from the Child Care and Development Fund is vouchered. On the other hand, Head Start, which is the primary federal program for early childhood, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which is the primary program for after-school through the Department of Education, are direct money to programs. So while there’s lots of debate about vouchers versus direct assistance to programs right now, in the child care world, we have both going on. I think that will come up throughout the morning.
That’s the stage-setting piece. I’m going to turn this now over to Mary Bogle. I must say, when E.J. first called me and a few of us to sit down and have lunch with him at the start of this project, we said there was very little information out there on this issue. Mary Bogle has done an incredible job of interviewing a lot of people, many of you in this audience, to try to find out as much as we can on this topic.
MARY BOGLE: Good morning. You’ll have to forgive me for pausing frequently this morning because I have a cold and I might need a drink of water frequently.
The provision of child care in sacred places is not a small phenomenon. Nor is it a new one. Taken as a group, churches and synagogues may be the largest providers of center-based child care in the United States, and they have been providing these services for possibly well over 100 years. To begin my presentation, I would like to recognize the National Council of Churches study “When Churches Mind the Children: A Study of Day Care in Local Parishes,” which I will reference hereafter as the NCC study, as an important source of data. It should be noted, however, that this study collected and analyzed data from its member denominations almost 20 years ago. Although my paper compensates for the age of the NCC data by also referencing smaller more recent studies and the insights of over 30 expert informants, many of the findings I discussed are frequently qualified in order to avoid overstating what can be known.
Because of the importance of congregation-based child care providers to the overall field, and because of recent demographic and policy shifts, I recommend that the NCC study be updated. I also recommend that an expanded sample include providers representing the full range of faith denominations, geographic locales, and children from various incomes, ethnic and racial groups. Having made this recommendation, I should add that I know from my own sometimes frustrating experiences how difficult it is to collect good data on the religious community since its many expressions are often so decentralized and even fragmented. And so, to those brave enough to undertake a new study on congregation-based care, I offer solace with the following insider version of a very old story. Many of you will find it familiar.
In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. God went on to create the waters, the land, and all the living creatures of the Earth in this way. Finally, seeing everything that he had made, God pronounced it good. Well, about this time, along came the Devil, then known in Heaven as the archangel Lucifer. And he asked God, “How do you know it is good? Did you use a control group? Was there a pretest and a post-test? What was your sample size?” And God said, “Go to Hell.” [Laughter and applause.] I thought this group would like that one. I want you all to remember that story when we get to the respondent questions when you ask me questions I can’t answer.
MR. DIONNE: You now have given us what your response is going to be.
MS. BOGLE: Be warned. [Laughter.]
Okay. Before proceeding, allow me to go over some definitions with you. I use the term congregation-based child care to describe weekday early childhood programs provided in houses of worship. The term does not include, nor does my paper address, religious organizations that have a primary mission to provide services, such as Catholic Charities and the Jewish Community Centers. Furthermore, it is important to note at the outset that congregations relate to child care providers through the facilities in three ways: direct operations, where the congregation exercises full financial and programmatic control over the child care center; indirect operations, where the congregation incorporates the child care center as a separate nonprofit, but remains closely involved in its operations; and independent operations, where the congregation rents out space to an independent entity, such as a secular, nonprofit. I will use the term congregation-operated child care when I am referring to directly and indirectly operated programs.
And now, some historical background on congregation-based child care. Although the facility was not based in their meeting hall, the religious motivations of a group of female Quakers appeared to have been the driving force behind the earliest known child care institution in America. It took the form of a nursery founded in 1798 as part of the Philadelphia House of Industry, which sought to counter family breakup by offering poor women the means to support themselves and keep their children with them. As we shall see later, social justice was likened to mission theology that motivated the founders in this work.
Evidence of actual congregation-based child care emerges during the Progressive Era, when congregations began to respond to the tide of immigration from Europe by sponsoring day nurseries for immigrant children in settlement and neighborhood houses. For those so new to this land, churches and synagogues were, of course, a natural place to turn for family support. It was in the post-World War II era that congregations fully came of age in their capacity to provide child care. The surge was not driven by theological or social imperatives, but by a post-war building boom of church educational wings. Although this new stock of child-friendly physical plants was generated by a desire to accommodate the Sunday School needs of the baby boom generation, the stewards of these spaces also began to view child care as a natural weekday use.
As the NCC study points out, congregation-based child care can also be understood as a modern day grassroots phenomenon. During the ’70s and ’80s, providing child care was a response of many houses of worship to the high rate of women leaving full-time child rearing for the paid labor market. In response to this growing ministry, the National Council of Churches established the Child Day Care project within its offices and published its landmark study in 1983.
Today, the phenomenon of congregation-based child care has entered a new phase, one which is characterized by a wide and growing variety of institutional responses from denominational home offices, cross-faith partnerships, and the vendors and membership associations which serve educational concerns within the religious community. Up until the NCC study, no national church agency even recorded the names or numbers of parishes operating child day care centers. Since the publication of the study’s findings in 1983, and perhaps in part because of them, this is no longer the case. I will return to the very important subject of institutional response at the end of my remarks.
So why do congregations provide early care and education services? On a practical level, the availability of suitable classroom space and child-sized furnishings continues to be the lead factor in why congregations provide child care. In addition, the geographic placement of synagogues and churches at the heart of their communities and their tax-exempt status also make them natural venues for this service. It is also important to note that many congregations lease classroom space for child care as a means of generating revenue or significantly off-setting mortgage costs on their buildings.
Congregations also have theological reasons for the provision of early childhood services. Thanks to the NCC study, the specific mission theology of most congregation-based care can be broken into the following component parts: pastoral care, which views child care as a service to families within the congregation; community service, which views congregations as having a responsibility to the neighbors in their community, whether or not they are members of the congregation; education, which views religious instruction as an integral program component; social justice, which views child care as an expression of the faith community’s outreach to particular populations, such as low-income families or special-needs children.
And finally, though common to church-based child care, I am told by Jewish informants to my paper that the following purposes are not applicable to synagogue-based child care. These are stewardship, which views the effective use of physical resources as a trust placed in the congregation’s hands by God, and evangelism, which views child care as a means to proclaim one’s faith and recruit new members to the faith community. Jewish informants to this paper indicate that education and acculturation is the foremost reason for the provision of weekday early childhood services in synagogues. This is because of the Hebrew Bible’s strong emphasis on the Jewish people passing on the tenets of their faith through succeeding generations.
Among church-based programs, the community service motivation was dominant as of the time of the NCC study. But as we shall see when I conclude with a look at denomination-wide responses to child care, church-based purposes may be tipping further towards education and evangelism in recent years.
So, how does congregation-based child care stack up against the entire field of child care? To answer this question, it’s important to look at congregation-based child care in relation to the child care “trilemma” of availability, affordability and quality.
First, availability. Even the most conservative studies suggest that the availability crisis in child care would be much more severe without the contribution of congregation-based child care. Back in the early ’80s, the NCC study estimated that church-based programs as a group are the largest provider of center-based child care in the nation. A more recent survey, conducted by the trade journal “Child Care Information Exchange,” estimated that one out of every six child care centers in the United States is housed in a religious facility. Within the religious sector, child care and after-school care is provided by a significant percentage of congregations across the country. According to the findings of an independent sector survey of the nation’s Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim and Protestant congregations, 24.2 percent of congregations provide day care for very young children, and 18.2 percent provide after-school programs. And there is some evidence to suggest that the availability of center-based child care services is expanding more rapidly within congregations than throughout the field in general. The Child Care Information Exchange survey estimates that the number of child care centers operated in religious facilities increased by over 26 percent from 1997 to 1999, compared to 19 percent for the field overall.
With regard to affordability, a 1998 Census Bureau analysis demonstrated that, no matter the income levels, child care is the third largest expense, after housing and food, for families with children ages three to five. Thus, even after most parents have been stretched to the limits of their ability to cover the price of this service, the costs remain. It is well known that hidden subsidies are typically provided through the low wages of care givers, which Joan showed you earlier, and non-cash contributions provided by nonprofits. According to the NCC study, churches may be especially generous in this regard as three-quarters of the centers surveyed were provided space and utilities free or at below market value. According to the cost, quality and outcome study, an analysis of center-based child care published in 1995, the fees church-based caregivers charged parents are substantially lower than those found in other child care sectors. This study also found that a higher percentage of total revenue came from parent fees for congregation-based providers than the other provider types. The cost, quality and outcome study also showed that the use of public subsidies to support slots for low-income children is lower within congregation-based child care than for other nonprofit sectors. More on the use of government funds later.
As for the third component of the “trilemma”, many studies indicate that the quality of child care is vexingly low throughout the nation. For example, the cost, quality and outcome study found that the quality of care in most centers is poor to mediocre and that only one in seven centers provides a level of quality that promotes healthy development. To study the of care within auspice types, the cost, quality and outcome study team broken the for-profit sector into the following subsectors: independent, local chains and national chains. The three auspice types for nonprofit centers are: church-affiliated; publicly operated, such as care offered through municipalities or school districts; and independently operated, which includes all other nonprofit centers.
In so doing, the study found that church-affiliated centers were statistically similar to for-profits in scoring lower on indicators of quality than the other nonprofit subsectors. The principal investigators concluded that, compared to the other two nonprofit subsectors, church-affiliated centers had poorer staff-to-child ratios, lower levels of trained and educated teachers, a smaller percentage of assistants with at least a child development associate certificates, less educated administrators, lower staff wages and lower labor costs and total expended costs per child hour. More importantly, church-affiliated centers had lower overall quality.
In a recent study that used the cost, quality and child outcome status set to probe more deeply into quality differences amongst child care centers, John Morris and Suzanne Helburn pinned findings of lower quality more specifically on church-operated child care. They found that church-operated child cares provide quality levels similar to for-profit centers but significantly lower than other nonprofit sectors. Independently operated church-affiliated centers – these are the ones that lease space but are not operated by the church – provide higher quality services than the church-operated and for-profit subsectors. Both studies, which used the cost, quality and outcome data set, conclude that the lower quality in church-operated care may be linked to lower fees these center typically charge.
During conversations I had with principal investigator Dick Clifford and Suzanne Helburn, they offered the supposition that church-based providers may be seeking to keep their costs affordable to parents within their market by putting the hidden subsidies they receive from churches into lower fees rather than putting them back into higher quality services as is more commonly the case in other nonprofit subsectors.
Church-based provider isolation from the mainstream early childhood community also seems to be a strong explanatory factor. As Deborah Hampton, director of the Ecumenical Child Care Network and a panelist today, indicated to me, church-operated centers must answer to the individual congregations and denominations first, and then, in the time remaining, network and resource with the larger early childhood community.
And as anyone whose ever worked in child care knows, time is a precious and all-too-scarce commodity. And indeed, the mission of the Ecumenical Child Care Network, which began in 1984 in response to the NCC study findings, is to address the isolation experienced by congregation-based child care providers through publications, technical assistance, special recognition of quality programs and other program support services, such as an annual conference.
Another frequently cited explanation for why church-operated care may be of lower quality is that these centers are often poorly administered. The skills it takes to run a church are different than those required to manage an early childhood program. For this reason, cross-faith partnerships like ECCN encourage church-operated providers to incorporate separately from the houses of worship in which they are housed.
Just as the phenomenon of congregation-based child care is not new, neither are the issues they raise concerning church-state relations. I will briefly go over the two most challenging areas for congregation-operated programs: licensing and the use of public funds. Most states require congregation-operated child care programs to meet the same set of licensing regulations that apply to secular providers. Although numerous court cases have confirmed the constitutional right of states to regulate congregation-operated services, the U.S. Supreme Court has also held that states may exempt congregation-operated facilities from regulatory oversight if they so choose.
Today, about 14 states exempt or partially exempt child care that is operated by a religious institution from licensing requirements. Generally, however, states that offer exempt status still require congregation-operated facilities to register with the state regulatory agency and certify that they meet minimum health and safety standards. For example, in North Carolina, religiously sponsored centers that choose not to be licensed must meet minimum standards on issues like health, safety and child-staff ratios and group sizes. These same child care centers are generally exempt from standards concerning staff qualifications, training and the use of developmentally appropriate activities and play materials.
Prohibition on corporal punishment is a particular source of church-state tensions, especially for some congregations that represent conservative Christian faiths. As such, it is an obstructive issue on the delicate balance of church-state relations in child care. North Carolina law specifically allows congregation-operated child care centers to use corporal punishment if a facility files a notice with the state that it is part of the religious training of the program and acknowledges in its written policy of discipline, which is made available to parents. Again, however, the courts are often the final arbiter of disputes over such matters.
In 1988, the United States District Court of California denied the petition of North Valley Baptist Church to have its preschool exempted from the state’s child care facilities act’s ban on corporal punishment on the grounds that compliance would not burden the exercise of the plaintiff’s religious beliefs. Basically, the court noted that, while the plaintiff’s beliefs permitted spanking, they did not require spanking. Several states, such as Texas, require congregation-operated child care centers to be fully licensed or to employ an independent accrediting body to verify their ongoing compliance with all of the standards set forth in licensing regulations. Currently, the Texas Association of Christian Child Care Agencies, an independent Baptist organization, is the only agency on the list approved by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. An application from the Council on Accreditation, a national secular organization, is pending.
Although beyond the scope of this paper, a host of public policy and other issues raised by alternative accreditation merit further study. Questions include: What are the implications for parent understanding of minimum standards in a state that allows multiple agencies to quasi regulate child care facilities? Are there variations between states and the rigor applied to assessing the expertise and legitimacy of an alternative accreditation agency? And what are the implications of allowing one religious organization to monitor the compliance of another?
Interestingly, many of the faith-based informants to this paper believe that congregation-operated child care programs should be licensed just like any other provider. And in fact, armed with data that the majority of church-based providers have no problem with licensing their child care facility, the NCC circulates a policy statement which says that licensing is the appropriate responsibility of the state and that it need not interfere with the free exercise of religion. The statement encourages churches to neither seek nor accept exemptions from licensing standards.
There is, however, hardly unanimity on this issue within the ranks of Christian leadership. In Pennsylvania, where the issue of licensing exemption is hotly debated at present, the First Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is lobbying hard to have congregation-operated child care providers exempted. In a recent conversation, I asked PCC Executive Director Bob O’Hara why his organization is seeking such an exemption.
To quote his response, “It’s the same rationale for why we don’t want the Department of Education coming into our schools. We see this as part of the teaching mission of the church. That means that it’s a religious mission, and we don’t ask the government for permission to perform our religious mission. People choose to put their children in religious child care facilities because they expect to have their child taught particular values. That’s why they choose a Jewish facility, or a Catholic facility or a Presbyterian facility or whatever. They choose a religious child care facility because it is an extension of the religious teaching of the church. That is different than some of our Catholic Charities facilities, where we offer adoption services or a food bank. In those particular instances, there might be cause for licensing and we might accept that. But that’s not the teaching mission of the church.”
Ultimately, it is important to move beyond the legal issues at an examination of the consequences for children. A number of child care policy experts believe that licensing exemptions play a role in pushing the quality of church-based care lower. Any further study of congregation-based care needs to look carefully at this subsector in relation to the cost, quality and outcome study finding that states with more demanding licensing standards have fewer poor quality centers.
As for public funding, historically, when pervasively sectarian institutions have been viewed as serving the public good, they have been permitted to use public funds in achieving the secular goals of their ministries. Although few pieces of legislation set guidelines on church-state relations prior to the 1990s, the nation’s courts have generally held that religious organizations may receive government contracts and grants so long as they refrain from sectarian activities in the expenditure of them.
And indeed, congregation-based early childhood efforts have been supported by taxpayer dollars for at least 30 years. For example, since its establishment in the 1960s, the Head Start program has partnered with congregation-based providers, particularly those housed in churches with predominantly African-American congregations. And in the 1980s, Title XX block grant funds were made available to congregation-based child care programs on a widespread basis.
Following Title XX, the next watershed in federal funding for child care was the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, the CCDBG, which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Notably, the act represents the first significant effort to legislatively define church-state relations in the provisions of a social service program. In so doing, the legislation was careful to distinguish between certificates, also called vouchers, which are viewed as aid or assistance to the parents, and grants or contracts, which are considered assistance to the provider or organization. Typically, under the certificate system, a parent takes their voucher directly to the provider. Because this method of payment is viewed as the result of an agreement between parent and provider, the CCDBG legislation and its subsequent regulation, issued in 1992, does not view the state as providing assistance to the child care provider. Rather, the assistance is to the parent who, in turn, uses it to exercise an independent choice.
The CCDBG was reauthorized under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Although the 1996 version of the act consolidated separate child care funding streams, including the certificate, into a single child development fund, no major changes were made to language that is particular to sectarian providers. I call your attention to page 22 of my paper which sketches the major church-state issues that generally affect sectarian providers and how they are handled differently for contractors and certificates under both the 1992 and 1996 versions of the CCDBG law and regulations. For example, contractual providers are prohibited from using federal funds to provide religious instruction. Certificate receivers are not.
There have been no court cases alleging violations or asserting constitutional issues with regard to sectarian providers who received certificates since the CCDBG’s passage in 1990. Although child care certificates are widely available to congregation-operated programs, as a result of the CCDBG, there is no quantitative data on how many such programs actually utilized opportunities to access public funding to serve low-income children. Many informants to this paper claim, however, that two issues drive the use of CCDBG funding among sectarian providers: awareness by the parents of the availability of certificates and the willingness of congregation-operated providers to accept government aid of any kind.
Regulations issued in 1998, following passage of the 1996 amendments to the CCDBG, place greater emphasis on the responsibility of state lead agencies to make parents aware of all the child care options available to them, including the use of certificates for access to the full range of providers, a term which encompasses congregation-based providers. There are those who claim, however, that states are generally ineffective in carrying out consumer education because the regulations do not mandate how the lead agency is to ensure compliance by its regional and local agencies – yet another question for future studies to examine more closely.
The clear picture on the willingness of congregations to accept child care vouchers is equally hard to gauge. Data collected before the advent of CCDBG funding indicated that church-run centers are much less likely than secular nonprofits to provide care to subsidized children. The 1995 cost, quality and outcome study added support to this finding. However, the potentially growing impact of the certificate system, combined with the unknown effect of large increases in funding for child care subsidies since 1996, underscores the need for new research on congregation-operated child care and the use of public funds.
Though no hard data is available, a number of the informants to this paper suggest that resistance to the use of federal funds for child care is most prevalent among congregations representing particularly conservative denominations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention. The fear generally expressed by conservative evangelicals is that, with any government money with inevitably come government intrusion into religiously based activity, curriculums and hiring practices.
However, an important and largely unanswered question is whether the likelihood that a particular congregation will accept government funding for programs to serve the disadvantaged has as much to do with their history of social progressivism as with conservative theology. In his 1998 National Congregations Study, University of Arizona sociologist Mark Chavez, found that most of the country’s 300,000 congregations engage in some form of social service, but that only 3 percent access public funds in order to do so. However, 28 percent of predominant Caucasian congregations and 65 percent of predominantly African-American congregations said they would be interested in applying for federal funds. In addition, Chavez finds that Catholic and liberal Protestant denominations are significantly more likely to apply for government funds.
And now I’ll conclude with a few words on the growing institutional response to congregation-based child care. In the NCC study, the authors conclude, “The church is a major provider of child care in this nation. “As such, it is a major factor, however unintentional, in any national debate about child care. Our evidence suggests that child care in churches requires more intentionality on the part of national church agencies if the quantity and quality of care offered is to continue and increase.”
Almost 20 years later, it is clear that many faiths and denominations have taken up this challenge. While the absence of consistent study data makes firm claims about expansion in the quantity of care impossible to make, it is evident that this institutional response is influencing the purposes of congregation-based care and may well be having an impact on the quality.
A denominational response may also be affecting the ratio of programs that are directly operated by congregations. Back in the early 1980s, the NCC study found that 53 percent of all centers in churches were operated by the congregation. The recent Child Care Information Exchange study suggests that in recent years the trend has been to shift even more dramatically in the direction of congregation-operated care.
What is most evident is that the purposes of education and evangelism are rising with the tide of institutional interest. Citing the NCC study against their own data, the Child Care Information Exchange Study said, in 1983, only 13 percent of church-housed centers surveyed listed spiritual development as one of the primary goals of the program. Traditional early childhood goals of fostering love and worth, sharing and cooperation, and positive self-image were the most common program goals cited. This pattern appears to be changing. In a recent survey of the nation’s 20 largest denominations, while traditional early childhood goals were still cited most frequently as denominational goals, spiritual development was identified as an increasingly important secondary goal.
One of the most fascinating and perhaps not surprising aspects of the institutional response to congregation-based child care is the dominant role conservative evangelical organizations seem to be playing in the provision of religiously based early childhood curriculum. Of these, the Wee Learn and A Beka products are best-sellers. Wee Learn, a product of Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, offers modules for infants, toddlers and preschool aged children and has a mailing list of 5,000 early childhood directors. A Beka Book, which is affiliated with Pensacola Christian College, offers early childhood curricula that spans ages two to five years.
Cursory review and informant opinion suggests that the We Learn products generally promote a child-centered approach to early care and education. A Beka products seem to emphasize a more academic or classroom-like approach with heavy emphasis on structure and discipline. Other well-known purveyors of Christian early childhood curricula include the Association of Christian Schools International and Bob Jones University.
I call your attention to page 28 in my paper for a table which gives some indication of the relative presence of different faith traditions in providing early childhood services through their facilities. Not surprisingly, the larger denominations tend to offer the greatest number of child care centers nationwide. In my paper, I also offer profiles of how the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the United Methodist Church are responding on a national basis to the needs of very young children served within their facilities.
I don’t have time this morning to go into detail on these responses except to say that they range from being one-person early childhood consultants to more sophisticated systems that address curriculum development, and even within church accreditation. What is most remarkable is that today, in 2001, almost every faith tradition is offering a response. My profiles confirm the Child Care Information Exchange Survey finding that the purposes of the evangelism and education may indeed be rising with greater institutional focus on child care. In addition, I found that national faith offices are taking a greater interest in promoting quality as a theological concern, a welcome trend indeed.
As the comments of Debbie Hampton and others indicate, congregation-based caregivers tend to look to their faith institutions first for support on the issues they face. Any new study on the phenomenon of congregation-based child care – and phenomenon it is – needs to seek to understand the implications for children now that those institutions are answering.
I thank you for your attention.
MR. DIONNE: I want to thank Mary for that excellent paper. I loved her underscoring the important fact that there is a paucity of data here – whether we want to send somebody to a certain place or not – and I think, in this field, I’m reminded of the Sherlock Holmes line, “Data, data, data, I cannot make bricks without clay.” And so I’m hoping somebody will produce some clay here. And I think that Mary has taken us down that road.
Two other points I’d underscore from her paper that were so helpful. Child care really can be a model for the debate that’s coming on other forms of charitable choice because, as Mary pointed out, the child care act was passed 11 years ago and there’s probably more experience in this field than there is in any other on the broader issues. And lastly, there was a part of her paper which I think underscored a core problem in this debate. If I may paraphrase a former president, it depends on what the meaning of faith-based is. Her listing of purposes of these different programs, purposes and inspirations, if you will-pastoral care, community service, education, social justice, evangelism-suggest a wide diversity of forms of organization that will raise many different kinds of issues as we debate this faith-based issue.
Now we’ll turn to the panelists, in alphabetical order. We’re going to start with Judith Appelbaum, vice president of the National Women’s Law Center. We’re very grateful you’re here. Thank you.
JUDITH APPELBAUM: First of all, thank you, E.J., for inviting me and thank you, Mary, for pulling all of that together. It’s really, really useful for those of us who work on these issues.
What I want to do is to quickly underscore some of the points that have been made about the child care situation that we face in this country today and the ways in which the childhood block grants and development funds address it. Then I want to identify what I think are some of the biggest issues that emerge from this framework in the context of faith-based child care.
First of all, the “trilemma”: availability, affordability and quality. You know, it’s important to recognize that the child care needs of American families have grown exponentially in the last two decades, and there’s no going back. I’m not going to quote a bunch of statistics, but something like 7 out of 10 American women with children today are in the paid labor force, and a substantial majority of mothers with young children are in the paid labor force and most of the families depend on their income. In fact, many of them are single heads of households. So they completely depend on their income.
As we heard, the cost of child care is too high for many families to afford. High quality care is often too expensive or just not available at all in many communities. And we also know that it’s critical for the healthy development and educational achievement of the kids. Furthermore, there’s no mystery about what needs to be done to address these problems. Many European countries are addressing the child care needs of their populations far better than this country is. Right here on our own soil, the U.S. military is providing a great example of providing high quality child care to families who need it at an affordable price. My organization has released a study of that success. Some of the things that you need to do are to pay your providers better wages to reduce the turnover. You need to train them better. You need to have comprehensive standards and enforcement of the standards, and so on. And then you need to subsidize the families so that they can pay for the higher costs of this higher quality care.
The Child Care Development Block Grant is a big help. It’s providing money to the states to provide subsidies to low-income families so they can afford child care and, to a lesser degree, it addresses quality issues directly as well. The Child Care Development Block Grant is grossly underfunded. The HHS estimates are that it currently is reaching only 12 percent of eligible families and it needs to have a greater funding increase. And by the way, if Congress passes a $1.6 trillion tax cut, it’s going to be that much harder to fund important programs like this.
There’s no question that faith-based child care makes an important contribution. It did so before the Child Care Block Grant. It has done so since. It recognizes the importance of parental choice and, through vouchers, allows parents to receive these subsidies in way that they can spend them on faith-based child care. Vouchers, of course, predated the block grant structure, but they are continued under the block grant federal funding, federal-state funding stream. And in the Child Care Development Block Grant, Congress tried to strike a balance allowing public money to be used to support families using faith-based care, but with some restrictions, as Mary’s grid summarizes.
Now, as for some of the concerns that are raised about faith-based child care and supporting it with public funds, in particular. First of all, the quality issue. One thing Mary said was that there are some indications that child care in at least some faith-based settings tends to be lower than in some other settings. And that may not be unrelated to the fact that, at least in some states, there are exemptions from the regulatory scheme that applies to child care – exemptions for religious child care. And we heard something about some of the resistance to applying the regulatory scheme that really, we know, is necessary to enhancing quality and ensuring quality.
A second quality concern is that, when child care subsidies are provided through vouchers, as they are through the block grant program, there are limitations to what you can do about quality. Those are subsidies to address affordability, but you can only address quality through grants that go to the programs or go to the states to help the programs meet licensing standards, to help them raise the salaries, and to help them provide benefits for child care workers. You can’t really do that through a voucher program. There’s no systemic approach to these problems. So those are some limitations that you face when you try to support parental choice and faith-based care, but you’re limited to doing it through vouchers – as you may be constitutionally.
I want to make a point about a reality check on availability. It’s true that religious-based child care does expand the array of options for parents, but only for certain parents. I mean, if it’s limited to inculcating certain religious teachings and values, then only parents interested in having their children in that kind of program are going to want to put their kids there. So it’s not really available for everyone in the way secular care might be.
Next, there’s a whole set of church-state concerns that come up with using public dollars to promote religious views and inculcation of kids. And these issues, by the way, don’t evaporate just because support is provided through vouchers. There was a lot of discussion at the time the CCDBG was passed. There were some constitutional scholars who opined at the time that, doing this through vouchers was troublesome and the courts have not addressed it. One federal court recently struck down a school voucher program in Ohio, so the constitutional issues around vouchers are not resolved. Now, that may be distinguishable from child care, for a bunch of reasons I don’t have time to go into, and there are some court precedents that suggest that when the parents make an independent choice about where to spend their public dollars, as is the case with using vouchers under the Child Care Development Block Grant, that that’s constitutionally permissible.
But there’s still a policy concern, apart from the legality. A certificate that goes to a parent is turned over to the child care provider in the voucher program. The provider then submits the certificate to the state and gets back a check. The provider could take that check and sign it over to a supplier of religious materials. Public dollars are ending up in the same place. You could raise a question about whether the indirect expenditure, direct expenditure distinction is a mere formalism or not. It is recognized in the law. But I just raise the question. You know, the Congress, with the support of many of us advocates, made the decision to allow vouchers to be used this way. But there are still policy concerns that arise.
And finally, there are some employment discrimination concerns, too. I don’t really have time to go into the, but they are another set of issues.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very, very much.
I do want to welcome Congressman Floyd Flake. Glad you made it. He is the pastor of the Allen AME Church, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a former member of Congress.
Just so you know, Reverend, the way we’re doing this is we’re going down the panel of respondents. I’m going to have a couple of respondents and then I want to bring in the audience, and we’ll keep moving through the list in alphabetical order. If your comments in this part could be limited to around five minutes, then there’ll be other opportunities to intervene or respond to comments and questions from the audience. It will be an open forum. But we’re very glad to have you with us. Thanks.
Carol Burnett is the director of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative. Welcome, and thanks for being here.
CAROL BURNETT: It’s a good morning. I would like to concur with what has been said about how this is not a new issue. I, for a dozen or so years, directed a United Methodist Mission agency that offered child care that was subsidized with federal, state and local government dollars. We offered an age-appropriate child development program with no sectarian content. We were licensed by the state. We didn’t engage in employment discrimination. And I think those are really the solid basis for a partnership that I would encourage.
Also, just to speak to the voucher issues that Judith was just talking about, I was the state administrator for the child care subsidy program in Mississippi until last month. Interestingly, the majority of parents opted in the voucher program for licensed child care, and those who chose unlicensed settings did so out of a desire to find a family member, not out of a desire to find a religious setting for their child care services.
I think that Mary’s paper issues a couple of challenges to people who are involved in church-based child care. One Judith referred to already, and that is the concern about addressing the level of quality of care that is provided in those settings. And the other, I think is looking at the suggestion that congregations where there are church-based child care settings are not really serving many subsidized children by using the government-funded vouchers. There is a huge unmet need for child care, which I think is the larger picture. And clearly, from what we’ve heard this morning, faith-based child care is a partner, but only a partner. And I was interested to hear about the earliest institutional child care in 1798 being to allow poor women to support themselves and to keep their children. I know that now in 2001, in our zeal to force poor women into work, we’re still not thinking very much about what needs to be there for the children.
There is a huge unmet need for child care and it’s more compelling in the lives of low-income families who find quality care significantly unaffordable. So while there are a lot of church-based programs, a lot of church buildings, a lot of facilities that are available, in my state, in Mississippi, it’s also true that there are 15,208 children who are on the waiting list for subsidized child care. So I think that one of the roles that people of faith can play in this issue is to continue to be a voice for our nation and our states to have broader social and economic policy that ensures that children, particularly in families that can’t afford care, get the care that they need.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very, very much.
Before I turn to Reverend Flake, I want to give people in the audience an opportunity to join in with questions, comments, issues we ought to discuss. Does anybody want to join in now? I always say no one likes to ask the first question, so think of this as the second question. If you could wait for the mike, I’d appreciate it.
QUESTION: John Scibilia, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, director for schools and early childhood education.
I’ve heard a few of you mention the lower number of subsidized families and children involved in faith-based programs. Did anyone take a look at how the states are actually carrying through those programs? For example, in California, the state is very aggressive in engaging faith-based organizations in getting those dollars while other states – one, for example, is the state of New York – where there is often an ignorance of that fact, especially when approaching the state capital. So I’m just wondering if you took a look at that because I think to simply say there’s a lower number in faith-based doesn’t necessarily reflect what their desire might be and how those programs are being operated in the states.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very much.
Is there one more comment, and then I could have Mary give a brief comment and actually Congressman Flake, or Reverend Flake is well placed to take up that question, too.
QUESTION: Hi, Andrea Young with National Black Child Development Institute.
Based on how the data is gathered, there’s a difference between people who might be eligible for subsidies and those who are receiving subsidy and the whole issue of people being touched by TANF. Have people have looked at whether churches, especially in urban areas, are serving people who might be eligible but are not getting subsidies for their child care? There was not much discussion in the paper of child care paid for by African-American denominations, and African-American independent churches who are not necessarily going to be tracked in a denominational category.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you, and the lady next to you also wanted to get in.
QUESTION: Yes, good morning. Robin Brazley, Congressman Major Owens office.
I’d like to hear some response to this link between the huge unmet need and increased availability, in particular, of faith-based child care. In particular, in some communities where availability is such a big problem, do we see parents opting for faith-based care and being put in a situation where their children are being instructed in spiritual values because they don’t have any other choice, and so there is not a voucher-choice option in the traditional sense?
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very much.
Mary, do you want to comment? And then I want to turn it over to Reverend Flake.
MS. BOGLE: Sure.
Just to respond to John’s comment. You’re right that I didn’t look very closely at this issue, but in California the California Council of Churches is a pretty aggressive, progressive group that is, in fact, reaching out. There’s study data-not a lot, actually-but Ram Cnaan has done some study data that shows that most clergy are actually aware of the availability of federal subsidies for their programs including child care. So, it’s an unanswered question as to why they’re not pursuing it.
Some folks think taking federal money is a hassle and they are right. There are a lot of strings attached to it, and because of the administrative functions in churches, clergy don’t necessarily see themselves or their programs as the best equipped to take it. Programs like Debbie Hampton’s encourage separate incorporation of church child care so that you have a separate administrative structure to funnel those federal dollars through in a way that doesn’t mix it up with the church dollars. It doesn’t get the administrators on both sides of the fence in trouble. The church can still be very directly involved in the operation. It’s just a cleaner administrative structure.
As to the role of African-American churches, one of the things I couldn’t mention in my talk, but that I did mention in the paper is a study called “Sacred Places at Risk.” It shows a lot of older, urban church properties, which were adapted around the turn of the century to serve immigrants through a notion of social gospel, actually have adapted their facilities today to respond to some changing needs in urban environments and especially urban low-income children. In fact, what the study says is that these churches are probably providing a very large number of child services, particularly child care. Again, there’s no real hard data and my paper points out that this is something we should pursue.
Interestingly, the other side of that-and this may go to the question about, “Are there really choices out there when parents are looking?”- is the child care initiative of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center. I couldn’t mention it in my speech but I have a bit of information about it in the paper. What’s very interesting about that is that their whole mission is to develop child care facilities in rural areas in North Carolina through churches. One of the impetuses for that initiative was the finding that, basically, in rural areas, churches are often the only facilities that are child-friendly and meet building safety codes. So when you’re talking about low-income rural children, there may be very few choices in terms of what child care can serve. And again, it goes to what are the initiatives out there that are helping the faith community get involved in federal funding. The North Carolina child care initiative, is a very unique and really wonderful initiative; it’s a cross-based partnership that is doing some very good work helping particularly low-income children access child care through churches.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very much.
And now Reverend Flake. Welcome.
FLOYD FLAKE: Thank you very much and good morning. Please accept my apologies for being tardy. It just happens that the Senate Finance Committee scheduled its hearings for this morning and allowed me to be the first testifier so that I could get here. So please accept my apologies.
We’re talking about this question of faith-based initiatives and that was the discussion this morning: charitable choice and the role of religious institutions. As one who has been doing this for the last 25 years through my ministry, which was still operative very much even during my 11 years here in Congress, one of the conclusions I’ve come to is that it is possible for faith-based institutions to deliver almost any redevelopment service. And certainly, that is true for day care. The issue becomes one of how you design the program. How do you structure it in such a way that you create a mechanism that can do day care without necessarily requiring parents to make a faith statement or make a statement about what their religious beliefs are? There has to be some openness in that process if it is to work.
My discovery is that what parents are looking for is not necessarily religion-based or non-religion based. What they’re looking for is a quality day care program. If it happens to be religion-based and they do not subscribe to that particular religion, it does not seem to matter to them if the quality of the education is of such nature that they feel that that child is going to get the full benefit of a quality day care education.
We opened up on March 1. We have two kinds of day care. I have my day care that we run with the church, and I also have a funded day care program because I realized that many parents could not pay $3,800 to put a child into my faith-based program but could in fact qualify for the Head Start program. We run both of them under separate corporations, so that we can keep the clear distinction between what we do as a church in terms of the first day care program and what we do within the Head Start program.
Now, because there are limited spaces available in the funded program, if they cannot get into the funded program or any of the other funded day cares in the community-they are all very oversubscribed – parents will find the means to pay so that their child can go to our private day care center. And what’s happened. The phenomenal growth of the faith-based day care that we operate is of such nature that, on March 1st, people were all around the corner and about 150-200 people were on the waiting list. They were not concerned about what kind of religion or if there was-they do a morning devotion and they do have programs in which they do the traditional kinds of things-but that’s not essential to them.
What is essential is they know that the school has a reputation. And if you put the child here, the probability is one, they get lined up for almost an automatic entree into our 1-8 program. So they start the pyramid, with the bottom of the pyramid represented by day care. So if you get a child here, you know that you have an entree because we will not reject a child who is going on into the 1-8 program. And it means that they have already been inculcated in the system-not the religion, but the system-so that, as they go through the 1-8 program. They are able to survive.
One of the things that I’ve said, just as in my recent testimony, is though I’m a supporter of the faith-based extension and initiative and charitable choice, I have some concerns. As a product of the model city era, I don’t want to see us replay some of the things that led to the destruction of the model cities program. And that was a process that was much too open. Therefore, persons came into the business and immediately when the funds were lost, people whose hopes had been risen by virtue of the fact that they were getting these services suddenly were without them. So even more importantly in the day care area, we don’t want to get children involved in programs that cannot survive.
I offer basically three things that I think are important in the setting up of this whole faith-based process.
Number one, there must be some means for capacity analysis. Everybody who has a heart to deliver day care services does not necessarily have the pedagogical or the academic or the necessary facility for being able to manage that day care. I would argue then that there still must be an RFP process. To open the process without some way of determining capacity, opens up a means by which ultimately the programs lend themselves to failure. And it also raises some of the questions I heard as I came in, of not being able to do a qualitative enough analysis to determine whether or not, in spite of the good will of the people and the spirit of volunteerism, the people actually have the capability and capacity to really run that day care center. So I think that’s essential.
Secondly, I think it is imperative that there be what has always been operative in government funded programs, and that is the firewall. That firewall, generally instituted by a 501(c)(3) corporation, speaks specifically to the needs of that entity. I have 11 corporations and 11 corporations in part because I run a $29 million operation. So, I’m trying to protect the interests of various of the components. My child care component is a totally separate corporation because I want to make sure that the corporation does not in any way cause a liability that will reflect negatively on the ability of us to function as a church. If I have a lawsuit because a child got hurt in day care, I don’t want that lawsuit to also injure the church in any way by virtue of it being extended to the church itself. So that my liability constraints require that I set up the necessary 501(c)(3).
I would argue that, if we are serious about making these programs work, the partnerships are good. They make a lot of sense to me because, as I said, all of the funded day care programs in my community are already oversubscribed. If it extends the possibility of being able to bring more children in, it’s a great idea. But we must make sure that we have the firewalls.
Thirdly-I see my friend Sullivan Robinson from the Congress of National Black Churches, and she would agree in some part, I think-I know too many churches that do not have capable accounting-bookkeeping procedures. And if you commingle federal dollars, city dollars, state dollars with church dollars and again open up the books of many of these churches, we are headed down a path that God-only-knows where it might end. I am amazed, quite frankly, at the number of churches that are unincorporated, that have been in business, the church business, for years. And I’m afraid that many of them will see this as an opportunity to expand the church through these particular programs, whether it’s day care or any other program. And if they do that and do not understand accounting principles, refusing to hire CPAs or even bookkeepers in many instances, because they are processing what they use for their funds and how they manage them, I think we could open ourselves up for some very serious problems.
And so those three things are my only cautionary points: strong support for the program, strong support for charitable choice, but with some understanding that there must be a means by which we assure accountability, we assure quality, we set some standards, and that those standards do not reflect negatively on the overall faith-based initiative, but guarantee that, whatever has been promised in response to that particular RFP, is what is going to be delivered. And that’s my concern.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you so very much.
I am grateful for those points, and I particularly like your model cities point. I was talking about a year ago to a minister who had applied for a charitable choice grant, a small grant of about $75,000, and got it. He said what troubled him was not how hard it was to get the grant, but how easy it was in that particular state to get the grant. And he raised exactly the same concerns that you did here.
Deborah Hampton, the executive director of the Ecumenical Child Care Network. Welcome, and thank you.
DEBORAH HAMPTON: Thank you.
ECCN, the Ecumenical Child Care Network, is a response to the study done in 1984 where 12,000 churches were surveyed and one of the essential issues was that they are isolated and need support. We know that over 3 million children are in churches, synagogues and in mosques, and we know that 95 percent of these programs open their services to nonmembers in the community. We also know that churches, synagogues and mosques are the subsidizer of many of the expenses of these child care programs. But we also know that they do serve two masters. And that’s a little bit of what I want to talk about this morning. The churches initiatives like the initiative to underscore poverty, the initiative to safe havens, the initiative of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, all of these pieces, are also a part of the child care world. And they’re issues along with supporting quality care.
ECCN gets about 50 calls a week. Twenty of them are asking us to help them begin to think about starting a child care program. The other 30 are around maintenance and quality. And that’s where we shine the best. We understand the issues of creating a firewall: starting a 501(c)(3). We also ask people to do a community assessment so they can look at their community. And we also ask for folks to look at the needs of their church in relationship to the whole child care issue. Along with some of the other things the ECCN does, we have a self-study process that we think churches need to go through before they even begin to think about starting and working with the child care community. There are five pieces to that that I’d like to talk a little bit about.
One is around thinking about a joint mission together. One should look indeed at the mission of the congregation and the mission of the child care program as it begins so that it can be together in its thoughts and its philosophy and so it supports the community as they begin this effort.
The second is around governance: the decision-making issue. How will this program be governed? Will there be a separate 501(c)(3)? And, as you heard, we really do support that. How will decisions be made in this institution? One needs to look at that before they even begin to start.
The third is around administration, and that has to do with quality services. One needs to look at ratios and all the other pieces that go along with quality. One needs to look at how they think about the philosophy of serving children in their community.
The fourth one is around finance, and that’s going to get hot and heavy in the church because even the subsidized child care programs do not support this whole financial base that would support quality care. The church, the synagogue or mosque needs to support that child care program in some way, some form, somehow. One needs to think about how, jointly, one can work together at supporting this mission.
And then the fifth one is around communications and a liaison person. Actually have a person from the church board, the synagogue board, the mosque board work on an ongoing basis with the church or with the child care program to incorporate a good, open communication system around problems and issues . Then and only then do I feel like people can begin to start to think about issues around affordability and all the issues that we’ve talked about. You’ve got to get a base set up within the local congregations before we look at governmental issues and governmental support. All of those pieces need to be addressed. Quality is what ECCN stands for and we support and we help and hope that churches will respond in that way.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very, very much.
Again, before I turn to our final respondent, who wants to jump in at this point? Sir?
QUESTION: Al Millikan, Washington Independent Writers.
At the [launch of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life] March 1, if I heard Congressman Mark Souder correctly, he was saying there would be a difference between urban congregations and rural congregations in the matter of the religious expression or instruction. That is, when there was diversity and other options for those that were looking for care or service, they would be freer than those in a rural area with restrictions on what could be said and done. And I’m wondering, isn’t this a terrible kind of discrimination that the government shouldn’t be involved in?
MR. DIONNE: I’m not sure. I’m trying to recall that, because I’m not sure that’s exactly what Mark Souder said. I remember I raised the issue of a problem you have in rural areas that you don’t have in urban areas where in rural areas, you don’t have the extent of a choice that you have in big metropolitan areas. But I thought that the point was, and it’s a point that Mary made, that you have more choice in metro areas than you might in the rural areas.
Does anybody want to take that issue on, because I think, actually, that is a problem raised by charitable choice even though I’m sympathetic to it.
REVEREND FLAKE: It would seem impossible in any fair way to make that type of distinction. I think the issues of urban communities and rural communities have various places where they are very similar. When you look at the job base in many rural communities as well as in urban communities, they’re just not there. So you face some of the same kind of problems in terms of where people are on the socio-economic ladder. So I don’t know that you can make distinctions based on how you supply that need, because the need is the same.
I think where the confusion may well come is that there may be differences in worship styles and the like which have nothing to do with how these programs are implemented. I mean, if you talk about rural communities: the Southern Bible Belt. You hear that language often. I’m not so sure there’s a difference between a suburban Bible Belt and an urban Bible Belt in the South. But I think those kind of things become impediments to trying to do a fair and just means of making sure that the program actually does what it ought to and that ought to be for educational needs. And I think that ought to be the only focus of government: Does it meet the educational needs?
MR. DIONNE: Diana Jones Wilson of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center is here. Do you have any thoughts on this urban-rural issue?
DIANA JONES WILSON: I certainly do. I would just like to say that, first of all, when you begin to deal with issues of children you cannot segregate rural-urban by denomination. You cannot segregate the needs. We found in North Carolina, where 85 of the 100 counties are considered rural, that we had counties reverting funds because they did not have facilities. They were reverting subsidized child care funds because there was no place to use those funds. But there were children who needed the programs. So we looked at the one entity that existed in so many communities and that entity is, as it has always been, the church. We began to understand the issues that prevented the church from engaging in subsidized child care, and we began to deal with getting rid of the myths and instead equipping churches to become licensed programs addressing issues of quality and affordability.
Now, I need to say Dick Clifford is a wonderful friend of mine. He has been a part of the advisory board for our church child care initiative. But, he will tell you that the study that was done, the cost-quality study, is in fact flawed when it comes to its assessment of the church. The other partner that Dick had on this study might differ with Dick. But Dick is doing some research now to begin to investigate those issues. The issue was which respondents were courted and whether or not there was a rural presence in addressing the issues of quality in the response. And so there is a tilted, flawed response and assessment of quality that is or is not being made available.
The question is how do you get denominations and independent churches to understand that they have a calling to deal with the needs of the least of these. And the way you do that is that you demystify child care. You help them understand quality; you help them become partners with child care licensing experts so that they understand what is necessary to engage in the program; and you take a program that… In North Carolina, the child care application process and the guidebook is this thick, you know. I’m talking about five inches. And we’ve taken it and we’ve produced a book called “The Child at the Door” that has made churches understand how to get the congregation to embrace child care, how to deal with licensing, sanitation, and health issues on the front end of the planning. Not when there are mistakes made.
We also send in consultants to help the ministers as they facilitate these sessions, and that’s not a cultural piece: that’s urban-rural. We have the same consultants that go in. It’s people of faith trying to get past barriers. If you’re Baptist or Methodist, you’re different people, but either way, if you do this program wrong, you’re out. And so the question becomes how do you equip them so that the planning takes place, so that there is congregational ownership, there is a partnership, there are advantages, and you don’t have facilities that would offer services to children go empty Monday through Friday and maybe have a funeral or a wedding on Saturday and services on Sunday or whatever?
And so we have worked to provide this service. When we talk to our general assembly about resources, we do not say to our general assembly where those 15 powerful, influential legislators are that we want to take from the 15 urban counties. We say there is a need: rural and urban. How do we come together to deal with the needs of the children? We want to meet the needs in rural areas. We do not take those dollars and shift them to urban areas. We only say let us find more dollars for the urban areas if there is a greater need. So there are ways that you form and frame the child care agenda such that people understand that there is a crisis, and that there are going to be some incentives required in order to get all child care programs to the point that we have the level of quality that we would wish for all children.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very much. And I also thank the person who asked the question for opening up that very helpful discussion.
Before we go back to the audience, I’d like Joan and Lisbeth Schorr to come in. Joan is the director of the Children’s Project, and she’s formerly deputy assistant secretary of children and families at HHS. Joan, again, and thanks for all your help.
MS. LOMBARDI: Well, thank you. And special thanks to Deborah Hampton and Diana, because they have been out on this issue before it became popular.
Several things that struck me. First of all, if you push any child care provider, you find a faith-based space because we’ve all been in them. And I would argue that one of the things that’s driven this issue is less about faith and more about space. It’s the only place that’s been open to us for years. Both E.J. and I talked about our first encounter with child care being in a faith-based space, and I just wanted to remind us of that.
What struck me about the paper was how much the issues facing faith-based child care are the issues facing the field in general. And I would note four more things. First. there is no data. There is no data in the field. You saw that my data was from 1995. I was amazed that Mary was able to find as much as she did find. In a country where we know who watched what movie over the weekend, we know very little about child care. Even in the data that we had from the Ecumenical Child Care Network, which was still dated, we don’t know of the Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist population how much involvement there is. And we know that the Asian American population is growing rapidly in the country, so we have data needs just like we do in the overall country.
Secondly, in Mary’s paper it said two-thirds of the parents pay for care; two-thirds of the care is private paid care. We know that’s the way it is in the United States in general. Basically, the system is paid for by parents. And that’s why we have the struggle that we have, particularly with low-income families.
Third, on the issue of knowing about subsidies, I would argue that most people don’t know about subsidies, faith-based or not faith-based. That’s one of the biggest problems we have. I’m not sure, but I think most of the data that we have about the use of subsidized child care dollars in faith-based is very old data prior to the big expansions in the last four years. Interestingly enough, there is about 180,000 child care centers, the estimates are from 100 to 180-that’s the range. And if you look at the most recent CCDBG data, 99,000 centers were getting some form of public dollars. That says to me there’s a mismatch here about whether subsidy is going to faith-based. I think we still don’t know.
There’s a note in the paper that said that people are not being referred or told about subsidies or told about the faith-based programs in their communities. A recent survey by the National Association of Child Care Research and Referral of their members – they have 700 members across the country and a good part of the membership responded – showed that 99 percent of them were referring to the whole array of providers, including faith-based. So I think the issue is that people still don’t know about subsidies, and that’s true in either case.
Fourth, the sense of isolation of the providers which, certainly Diana has talked to me about and Deborah has written about, is an issue across the spectrum in child care. And I think what we’re seeing in networks and curriculum development and conferences are efforts to bring those together.
Fifth, as far as the future and the more controversial issues. What we need in child care more than anything is direct assistance into programs. And we need more support. It’s very difficult to run a quality program on a voucher system, as I’m sure anybody who has tried knows. That may raise more issues, although we haven’t yet had court activity, as Judith pointed out. We do need more direct assistance, and the issues of separating and discrimination in employment practices may become more of an issue in the future.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very, very much. I’m glad you brought that up about our experiences with child care. I was a volunteer as a teenager at a Head Start center in the basement of a Methodist church. And it never occurred to me that that was the beginning of a long debate about faith-based organizations. It just happened to be a good space and that’s how we looked at it.
Lisbeth Schorr. It’s such a pleasure to have you here. She’s director of the Harvard Project on Effective Interventions. Many of you know her two books. I think her books call forth a trilogy. Her first book was called “Within Our Reach: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage.” She also wrote “Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America.” And so the third volume will clearly be called “A Common Purpose is Within Our Reach.”
Lisbeth Schorr, thank you.
LISBETH SCHORR: I like that, E.J.
In thinking about what I was going to say this morning, I went back to the description of the project under the auspices we’re meeting. The purpose of that project is to explore the role of faith-based organizations in the alleviation of social problems in America. Well, it seems to me the social problems we are talking about here this morning are, first, that many more families need good out-of-home child care than are now getting it with the result that the ability of the adults in the family to work, to get training, to be educated is significantly impaired. And secondly, that so many disadvantaged children are arriving at school with the odds already stacked against their achieving success because their early needs were neglected.
So, what have we learned from both research and experience over the last several decades that would allow us to devise strategies that could solve or contribute to solving these problems without violating the values we hold dear, both constitutional and otherwise? I think the Bogle paper does a really wonderful job of setting out the facts. It makes clear, as several people have said, that we can’t do without church-based child care in large part because churches are so conveniently located, usually safe, and offer inexpensive space. A second less obvious and more contentious issue that both increases our dependence on faith-based child care and worries a lot of observers is the motivation that accounts for faith-based organizations being in the child care field in the first place. I think Mary’s paper is very helpful in describing the many reasons that faith-based organizations do provide child care. They range from the Jewish mandate to repair the world to the evangelical view of child care as a means of recruiting new members to a particular faith and they include child care as a service to members of the congregation and for the community: the desire to instill traits, norms and beliefs of a particular culture or faith; the determination to provide pride and hope among marginalized ethnic and racial groups; and the social justice mission of serving low-income or immigrant or special-needs families.
I want to focus on the complicated relationship between the motivation of people sponsoring or operating child care and the quality of care provided. We now have a lot of evidence to suggest that while some of those motivations make liberals nervous because their impact on the church-state dilemma, some are very closely related to achieving valued social services because of the way they impact on the other issue that is as important as the church-state issue, which is the bureaucracy effectiveness issue.
We have a lot of evidence from a wide variety of social programs that the motivation to serve, to instill values, and to promote social justice are all potentially powerful promoters of quality. Now, whether or not you realize this potential in the child care arena depends significantly on whether we continue to rely on the ability of religious groups to subsidize the care they provide by staffing them with volunteers, with underpaid, poorly trained, and isolated staff. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attend to their potential to provide high quality services to children and families. We’ve learned in the last several decades that, in many human services and many aspects of education, they are more effective and of higher quality when those delivering the services believe in what they’re doing, when they are driven by a mission that extends beyond the self. And these are characteristics that are sharply at odds with the bureaucratic model of service delivery.
Dorothy Stoneman, the founder and leader of Youth Build, talks about how the secret of their success with alienated young people has entirely to do with the fact that staff go beyond their 9:00 to 5:00 requirements and go beyond their job descriptions. That is how they connect with the young people they are serving.
Well, the redefinition of professionalism to support more personal connections is so hard to do within the bureaucratic model. And I cite the Youth Build, even though it doesn’t come out of a religious agency, because I want to make the point that many effective efforts are at odds with the bureaucratic model because the attributes that account for their effectiveness are incompatible with how bureaucracies fund, regulate, and hold programs accountable, whether or not they’re under religious auspices. I think this is a set of problems that we have to solve both in the faith-based child care area and in the community-sponsored child care area where a lot of people who really base their interventions on a belief, on an ethos that goes beyond the bureaucratic model, are having such a hard time because it is difficult to operate under the accountability, regulatory, and funding requirements that prevail.
While this administration is shining a spotlight on the need to modify governmental rules, regulations, and funding patterns to make them supportive of the most promising faith-based initiatives while protecting fundamental individual and civil rights, I want to join E.J. in his hope that he wrote about that these faith-based efforts might become a small oasis of nonpartisan possibilities. But I want to see that oasis enlarged. I want to see that this new interest in departures from the bureaucratic paradigm will also allow us to make government more supportive of all initiatives, faith-based or otherwise, that produce results because they are mission-driven, relationship intensive, and flexible in their responses to local needs, and because their staff believes in what they are doing.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you. Thank you very much. And as always, you put your finger on two such important areas here, among others. I have no doubt that, as this faith-based initiative goes forward, we’ll have plenty of debate on First Amendment church-state issues. I worry that we won’t debate enough the other dimension which is what’s best for the poor and for poor children. And I appreciate your putting that out.
And the other is the core problem which goes back, in a way, to Reverend Flake’s model cities point: How can you avoid a bureaucratic model and yet still preserve accountability? I think it will be particularly difficult in faith-based areas, but it’s not confined to those areas.
I want to bring in some more voices before I go back to Mary to respond to this rich discussion.
QUESTION: My name is Bill Tobin. I work with a group called the Early Childhood Legislative Coalition. Just wanted to make a couple of points. One, when the so-called charitable choice provision was enacted at the instigation of Senator Ashcroft in 1996, it explicitly and intentionally excluded child care from its provision because child care already was deemed to be operating under the CCDBG. It doesn’t mean that the current administration, in its faith-based initiative, can’t go beyond that. But right now we shouldn’t be thinking as if this is part of the overall approach that is in the law.
Second, I agree wholeheartedly with Joan Lombardi. We have no data. Now that Joan is in the private sector-she was sympathetic when she was in the public sector-but inasmuch as the CCDBG has to be reauthorized, if only there could be put some data that discretely breaks out where the funds are going so that within the overall center-based care, there would be distinctions between faith-based or religious care, and nonprofit, et cetera. That way, we’d have a way of knowing this, which is not the case right now.
Third point, after-school care, school-aged care or out-of-school time care, are also a dimension of our problem. An extension particularly when you think of the earlier grades. And I think we should be thinking in terms of what can faith-based organizations be doing in that particular area right now. And it becomes more and more of a concern as we see some of the horrible headlines appearing in the newspaper.
Final point, which is I’ve admired your writing, Mr. Dionne, all the years, and you always seem to have a humorous anecdote. I’m reminded that some of us remember back in the early days when they were debating the national child care legislation, there was a cartoon relative to quality in child care that appeared in the paper. And it was two mothers discussing the child care center that their children went to. And one said, “My center is so wonderful, we have horseback riding once a week.” And the other one says, “Oh, my heavens, horseback riding.” She said, “Yes, and they teach them French three afternoons a week.” “French, my heavens.” “And they take them on trips to other cities.” She said, “That’s magnificent. What does that cost?” And the woman said, “$25,000 a year.” So the bottom line is, you get what you can pay for and you try to stretch what you have. When we get to the point where we don’t know how many child care centers are religiously sponsored in the United States, and just by deficit we have to go to Mike Wilson’s marketing lists in L.A. to come up with a figure because, seemingly, if they’re selling things, they’ve got to have correct lists, we’d better put a little bit more money in our other side.
Thank you very much.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very, very much, sir. Thanks for the kind words. I thought when you started that joke, you were going to say: My child is in the circus.
QUESTION: John Sciamanna with Child Welfare League of America. We have a number of organizations that are charitable based and I guess the fundamental question is what the goal here is of the overall initiative. You know, this TANF block grant was designed so that you could have state flexibility and local buy-in and it could be designed to fit with the community’s needs. It seems to me we have the same issue here that, unless you have local buy-in or states or communities buying into this, that charitable choice or any kind of choice won’t work. So I guess, the fundamental question is what are we talking about in expanding charitable choice beyond what goes on now?
MR. DIONNE: Thank you.
I want everybody to keep in mind some of these questions. In the back. Helen?
QUESTION: Helen Blank, CDF. I just think it’s important to keep our eye on the ball and the ball is the children. We give out $9 billion in child care with no accountability whatsoever, and if we talk about poor children and we talk about early literacy, let’s remember that in 31 states you can work in faith-based child care centers with no early childhood development training whatsoever as a teacher. You can come in in some states at 16 or 18 years old. And what are our goals? Only 10 states meet national recommendations for ratios and group size. So I think it’s really important, as we have this discussion, to focus on what Lee said about getting children ready for school.
And I was a little confused by the discussion of bureaucracy, because we don’t have a bureaucracy. We have a cottage industry that is not meeting the needs of children, nor is meeting the needs of families. And this is one issue around it. But we’re not investing the resources necessary to help parents get good care for our children. And I think that really should be the central issue in any discussion we’re having about child care.
MR. DIONNE: One last comment and then we’ll go to lunch. Ma’am?
QUESTION: My name is Lois Waldman, and I’m here from the American Jewish Congress.
Before the child care block development grant was enacted, many, many organizations had all sorts of serious concerns: especially, church-state and discrimination concerns. I’m curious, in our litigious society, how is it that 11 years have passed and we don’t have any cases? It seems surprising to me. Is it just a lack of data? Or what is it do you think?
MR. DIONNE: That’s a great question.
I want to say when we started discussing this some time ago, I was talking to Joan Lombardi and I’m going to garble what she said, sort of on purpose. Basically, [she said], are you sure you want to open a huge discussion on this? Somebody’s going to sue if they know all the stuff that’s going on out there.
If we could just have very brief closing comments so that Mary would have a chance to respond to all of these wonderful interventions. Starting with Lisbeth.
MS. SCHORR: In response to the question about why we are worried about bureaucracy when we don’t even have standards. It seems to me that when we’re talking about bureaucracy, Helen Blank thinks that we don’t have standards that require child-adult ratios and we don’t have standards that require a certain amount of training. I think there’s another aspect of bureaucracy which has to do with how hard it is for Head Start groups to join with day care groups, and how hard it is to keep the same kid in the same day care when the source of funding changes. Surely, there are aspects of bureaucracy that are essential to protect rights and quality. And there are aspects of bureaucracy that get in the way of doing the job well. I want to sort out those aspects, and I want us to get rid of some of the impediments to doing the job and beef up the protections of individual rights and quality care.
And I just wanted to say one more thing. In response to the question of: So why are we suddenly worrying about faith-based child care? When I first came to Washington in 1957, I was only a week on the job at the AFL-CIO doing health legislation when I discovered that I was the AFL-CIO representative on the advisory council for the Hill-Burton Act, which was the hospital construction act. At my first meeting, Americans United for Separation of Church and State was challenging the hospital construction act because it was supporting faith-based institutions. And I found this discussion very confusing and I finally said to the general counsel of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), “Is what is happening here actually constitutional?” They adjourned for lunch, and the general counsel took me aside. He said, “Look, I know you’ve just come to Washington. You don’t understand. There’s no way the hospital system in this country could function if we weren’t supporting faith-based institutions.” I understood. We went back to the session and the monsignor, who was sitting next to me said, “Now, that was a nice lunch, wasn’t it, Ms. Bamburger? Are you feeling any better?”
MR. DIONNE: That’s magnificent, thank you. Deborah.
MS. HAMPTON: I just want to underscore the need for data. Because the data is dated, we need to know who we are talking about, who we need to serve. I also want to say that there are already organizations out there, like the National Association for the Education of Young Children, that have standards of quality that faith-based organizations can indeed look to and are looking to. And also I want to continue to help you understand the capacity issues of the Ecumenical Child Care Network to support the many, many people with the passion to do this work, but don’t the knowledge to actually do it in the best way possible. So capacity, the need for data, and to know that there are already standards for quality are things I’d like to underscore.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you. Reverend Flake?
REVEREND FLAKE: I’d like to respond to the gentleman’s concern over to my left in relationship to child care being exempted from the charitable choice program. I respond in part because I deal with a realization that those persons who are working in child care often do not have benefits. They are quasi-government employees. Therefore, they spend a lifetime of service and cannot retire. So you have a lot of older, grandmotherly types who bring a level of wisdom to the process, but in reality, you cannot change personnel easily in most subsidized and funded day care programs because you just don’t have benefits. We must do something to drive a process that deals with a reality that these are human beings. They have the same needs as anyone else. And just because they happen to be in a category that is called government-sponsored day care, they ought not be denied basic benefits. Most of them have good hearts and willing spirits. They stay a long time. But the reality is we’re never going to get the quality out of day care programs that are subsidized if we don’t begin to put more resources in. I think it ought to be applied under charitable choice or any other entity that brings more resources in to meet that need.
MR. DIONNE: Amen, thank you. Carol.
MS. BURNETT: I just wanted to address the vouchers that are in the child care development block grant program that go directly to parents. While I don’t have any data, from the perspective of a state administrator of the program in Mississippi, I want to reiterate that we didn’t see those choices made because the parent wanted to get religious care. We saw those choices made because the parent couldn’t afford the co-payment fee. We saw it because there was not a center that was available for the parent to make the choice to send their child to. We saw it because it was a welfare recipient family who opted to buy care from another family member as a way to have the income stay in the family. But it was not because people wanted religious care. In fact, the impact of the voucher program where choices can be made in unlikely settings had a very damaging impact on the child care delivery system as a whole. And I just think that the myth that if they are provided this opportunity to seek religious care, that is does not playing out.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very much, Carol Burnett. Judy Appelbaum.
MS. APPELBAUM: First, let me respond to the specific question that was put to me, you know, why not more lawsuits. And as I lawyer, I guess I’m the good one to answer that question. And I certainly acknowledge what a litigious society we have and we have the same question, too: Why not lawsuits? But if you think about it, under the child care development block grants, the way it came out after the controversy played out, you can’t provide direct transfer contracts to child care programs that are sectarian in purpose or in the activities. So there’s not going to be litigation over that. It’s not permitted.
Vouchers can be for those purposes and activities, so why hasn’t anybody sued over a program that’s accepting vouchers under the First Amendment, the Establishment Clause? You know, I can speculate why. I don’t know why. But if you think about it, a parent who objects to that is going to have to know that subsidies are available in that program. Most likely, if there is a parents that objects, they’re going to vote with their feet or with their children’s feet. They’re going to put their child in a secular program or a different program. And they’re unlikely to want to sue a child care provider or raise the issue in litigation about a child care provider if they’re trying to get this program, you know, they may or may not want their kids to get in.
So, you know, in reality, it may be the kind of litigation that’s unlikely to actually be brought, which doesn’t speak to the legal merits. You know, the law is unsettled in this area. And so the fact that there hasn’t been litigation doesn’t mean that it’s considered a settled legal issue.
I want to make one other comment in response. Some references were made to, you know, how prevalent public programs are in the context of sectarian hospitals, hospitals that are affiliated with religious organizations. Remember that when you’re talking about kids, there’s a particular concern about inculcating values and teachings and indoctrination of religious beliefs. That’s why the courts, for example, take particular care in looking at aid to parochial schools. And those issues certainly arise in child care at least as much as they do in the K-12 educational context. And those concerns probably arise less in some of the social service programs that come up in the context of the charitable choice debate. If you’re talking about public aid to a substance abuse program for adults, it may raise these concerns to a lesser degree than if you’re talking about what kids are taught at a susceptible age.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you very much.
Now that Lisbeth has reminded us how important lunch is, Joan has timely agreed to lay over her comments until the afternoon. And so, Mary, you have started a wonderful conversation, and you get to end it.
MS. BOGLE: Oh, great.
One of the things that I think we’ve talked about today that I want to underscore is that, when you’re talking about church and state issues in relation to congregation-based child care, it’s important to remember that we’re not just talking about churches and local communities, congregations. We’re talking about churches as institutions, and institutions have values. Nowhere more so is that true than in our faith-based institutions in this country. And there’s two sides to the values coin to keep in mind as we go forward in looking at these programs.
To me, personally, a distressing example of the values side is the corporal punishment issue. And I want to underscore that’s to me personally. It’s not my faith tradition to say that it’s okay to spank kids in institutional settings. But that’s one way in which an institutional value-spare the rod, spoil the child – can play out even with government funds in play.
The other side is the positive side, and I think Lee’s discussion of the mission-driven nature of effective services really highlights this for me. The positive side of the coin is that when you’re talking about dealing with churches and synagogues as institutions, as part of national institutions in this country, it’s possible to address some of the issues like quality and use the public subsidies through the mission purposes of these institutions. In the Christian faith, the theology behind child care is often the sacrament of baptism which recognizes the sacredness of every individual at their birth and the requirement that the church nurture individuals and children. Providing child care is a way of proclaiming justice to communities. The Methodist church claims it as such.
In the Jewish faith, the Hebrew Bible stresses passing on the values, the positive values of the faith to succeeding generations. They also have a notion when they reach outside the community. Now, there’s a number of kids in various sectarian synagogue-based care who are not Jewish because, again, the parents don’t really care; they just want a quality program. In the Jewish theology that is called “tikkun olam” which says that when God made the world he made it incomplete, and the Jewish people are partners in fixing the world. So there is some wonderful theological purposes playing out that can be used to increase the quality of faith-based service.
In terms of subsidized children, I felt badly: my paper was already way too long and I didn’t get into this as much as I would have liked. But the United Methodist, the Evangelical Lutheran, and the Catholic Church are very good examples of where there are church-level initiatives to serve low-income children. Do not be afraid to look at the subsidy issue. The Catholic Church, in particular, has always had a mission’s purpose of social justice. And this makes that institution much less afraid of taking public money. I do not have data on this, but, anecdotally, it seems like the Catholic Church is out there taking a lot of federal subsidies in urban areas, probably the African Methodist Episcopal Church as well in urban areas, to serve low-income children. And again, this comes out of the social justice mission-driven place that they approach these issues from.
And I think that to the extent that we go down this road – and we’re down it, we’ve been down it for years, well before 1996 – that one can use these purposes to go in a positive direction as long as one keeps that other side of the coin clearly in mind as well.
MR. DIONNE: Thank you so very much.
I was struck today. Have you counted all the acronyms we heard today? I just had CCDBG, FBO, NCC, ECCN, NAEYCABCC, NCJW. That’s just part of it. It made me think we should have put alphabet soup as the appetizer for lunch.
Speaking of lunch, I am sorry we cannot accommodate everybody in the room at lunch. We, like many child care facilities, don’t have enough space and we would violate the fire code. Here’s the deal: people who did RSVP for lunch and were told they were on the list just go off to the first two doors here to lunch. Those who were on the waiting list, there may be some spaces. Ming is in the back of the room and she will let you know how many loaves and fishes she has managed to multiply.
See you at lunch. Thank you all.[APPLAUSE AND END OF MORNING SESSION.]