WASHINGTON– U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions’ Subcommittee on Children and Families, and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) member Subcommittee on Children and Families, today requested the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a study on the barriers parents and children with disabilities face in accessing child care, including the physical facilities and the services provided, from providers receiving federal funding. Parents in low-income communities, those who are Black or Latinx and those who have their own disabilities may experience these barriers at higher rates than other families.

“It is imperative that we address any issues with access to child care in order to achieve equitable care for this group of children and their families. Further, child care is a critical cornerstone for families to allow for parents to work outside of the home and for children to engage in social-emotional activities for their growth and development,” the Senators wrote. “Families with children with disabilities face an uphill battle securing child care that meets the developmental needs of their children. Similarly, parents with disabilities face challenges accessing or effectively communicating with child care providers and services.”

In the U.S., there are an estimated 4 to 9 million parents with disabilities. Furthermore, approximately 10.5 percent of children ages 3-5 are estimated to have a developmental disability.

In their request, the Senators called on GAO to assess the following concerns for child care services:

  1. What is known about the barriers to accessible child care facilities and services when a child has a disability or the child’s parent or guardian has a disability? How are these barriers impacting families differently? Does income, race, ethnicity, language or disability status raise additional barriers to participation?
  2. What steps are child care facilities taking to overcome barriers to accessible child care to access their facilities and services for children with disabilities and parents or guardians with disabilities? For example, do child care providers receive training on how to work with parents with disabilities and children with disabilities?
  3. What federal oversight and technical assistance are conducted to support child care providers to serve children with disabilities and parents or guardians with disabilities to meet the federal statutes and regulations to ensure child care is accessible? What does interagency coordination to support these efforts look like as implemented at the federal and State levels? How has it helped or hindered the inclusion of children and families with disabilities in child care settings?
  4. What are the costs and necessary steps to fund implementation of child care facilities upgrades to support accessibility for children and parents with disabilities? What are the accessibility features that would most likely cause a child care facility to claim a request to serve a child is an unreasonable accommodation?

This request is supported by the Center for American Progress, Division for Early Childhood and the United Parent Leaders Action Network.

Full text of the letter is available here

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