States are grappling with how to more effectively support their child care workforce, including ensuring providers have access to affordable health care. Just like parents, frontline early education professionals are better able to support children in their care when they are healthy. A healthy caregiver is especially important for young children because brain development in the youngest children is influenced by relationships with caregivers at home and in child care. Early education professionals need access to affordable health care in order to realize their best health and to best serve the children in their care. Like other low-income workers, child care workers often work for small businesses or are self-employed in family child care homes and lack access to affordable coverage options. Nationally, 16 percent of child care workers under age 65 are uninsured, compared to 13.3 percent among all adults under age 65 in 2019. Notably, the rates of uninsurance for child care workers in the states that have not yet expanded Medicaid is almost three times as high (30.6 percent) as in expansion states (10.3 percent). This disproportionately affects women of color, as they comprise 40 percent of the early childhood workforce and are more likely to work in early childhood than the K-12 system. States have policy options available to ensure affordable health coverage for low-income workers, including child care professionals.
States can ensure child care providers and other adults without employer insurance have access to affordable health insurance by:
- Expanding Medicaid to adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line.
- Promoting the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace coverage options for those who do not qualify for Medicaid
- Covering people who are ineligible for Medicaid and subsidized Marketplace plans.