The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have released the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC). Attached is the executive summary for the challenge RTTELDexec-summ, and we have also attached testimony submitted to the Connecticut Early Childhood Cabinet, who will be preparing Connecticut’s RTT-ELC submission.Statement to the Early Childhood Cabinet 9811
Remind your state leaders to remember diapers when drafting their submission for the RTT-ELC. Infants and toddlers without sufficient diapers cannot participate in most child care and early learning programs. Diapers are a basic need for infants and toddlers, and a need that must be met before infants and toddlers can fully participate in early learning programs.
Most child care centers do not provide diapers, so parents must bring sufficient diapers for the day, or the child cannot stay at the center. Families in need cannot buy diapers with food stamps (known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or “SNAP”) or vouchers from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (“WIC”), and must use what little unrestricted money they may have to buy diapers. Diapers can be very expensive—it generally takes around $1000 a year to keep a baby in diapers—so parents often ration diapers at home or do without. Child care providers describe a phenomenon they call “Monday Morning diaper rash” which results when a child has worn a soiled or wet diaper for long periods over the weekend because the parent wanted to conserve diapers for the work week.
Early Head Start programs are supposed to provide diapers for children in need, but unless diapers are called out as a separate line item in the budget, they may be lumped in with the “supplies” or “miscellaneous” lines which must be stretched to cover a variety of necessities for an Early Head Start provider. Other federally funded child care programs currently have no requirement to provide diapers.
As states compete for the latest Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, now is the time to tell your state legislators, education and early childhood agencies, and anyone responsible for the state’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) submission to “Remember the Diapers!”
A separate budget line item for diapers in the RTT-ELC submission will help satisfy the following assessment criteria for RTT-ELC submissions:
(A)(4) Developing a budget to implement and sustain the work of this grant (15 points). Calling out diapers in the budget demonstrates a commitment to increasing the opportunity for children whose parents cannot afford a sufficient supply of diapers
(B)(4) Promoting access to high-quality Early Learning and Development Programs for Children with High Needs (20 points) Making diapers available to children participating in RTT-ELC programs will increase the number of children who can participate, and may serve as an incentive for parents who are attracted by the promise of diapers to enroll their children
Focused Investment Areas
C. Promoting Early Learning and Development Outcomes for Children. (60 points)
o (C)(3) Identifying and addressing the health, behavioral, and developmental needs of Children with High Needs to improve school readiness. Making diapers available to children in RTT-ELC programs will improve the health of children (preventing a range of health problems from an increased risk of urinary tract and skin infections to even communicable diseases such as viral meningitis, dysentery, and diarrhea), and improve their behavioral response and receptiveness to new stimuli once this basic hygiene need is met
o (C)(4) Engaging and supporting families Making diapers available to children participating in RTT-ELC programs will relieve the stress and the expense of providing diapers for families and may serve as an incentive for parents who are attracted by the promise of diapers to enroll their children
Unless state leaders are reminded of how diapers can affect a child’s access to early learning opportunities, they may neglect to address this need and inadvertently limit access to these programs for children in need. Remind state legislators and officials responsible for drafting state proposals in response to RTT-ELC to Remember the Diapers!