The Ms. Foundation for Women's efforts to increase childcare access for low-income women, women of color, and women from immigrant populations led to a greater understanding of, and policy gains in support of, the interconnectedness of childcare access and labor policy, a report commissioned by the foundation finds.
The report, Childcare Impact Assessment: Ms Foundation for Women Economic Justice Grant Program, 2012-2016 (92 pages, PDF), evaluated the impact of the program's three-pronged grantmaking strategy, which included research on access to childcare by workers' rights organizations in sectors dominated by women; campaigns to increase public funding for child care; and efforts to raise wages and the quality of jobs in the childcare sector. Over five years, the program awarded fifty-four grants totaling nearly $1.89 million to twenty-four nonprofits, including general operating support for workers' rights, parent organizing, and childcare advocacy organizations; provided capacity-building opportunities to strengthen organizations' financial management and fundraising; convened grantees to boost cross-movement dialogue, leadership development, and campaign planning; and conducted research into the policy case for universal child care.
Conducted by NNR Evaluation, Planning & Research, with support from the Ford and Kellogg foundations, the evaluation found that labor groups, networks, and other funders took up the issue of child care, linking workplace policies to childcare access and childcare worker rights; that childcare advocates and parents groups were instrumental in highlighting the economic consequences of the underfunded and racialized childcare system; and that both were successful in engaging their bases directly in policy reform efforts. As a result, Ms. Foundation grantees collectively achieved more than fifty policy gains, including $8 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds allocated to the Mississippi Child Care Development Fund; $500 million in new funding to expand access to parents on the waiting list and increase the reimbursement rate for providers in California; and the introduction of fair work week legislation in New York.
Recommendations for further improvement include awarding multiyear instead of annual grants; increasing the size of grants; and regularly communicating the underlying philosophy of the grant program as well as grantee achievements to other funders and stakeholders.
"Our approach has not only helped the local organizations achieve policy gains, but also provided necessary resources to develop intersectional leadership in grassroots organizations," said Aleyamma Mathew, director of economic justice at the foundation. "To achieve economic security in the Trump era, we have to win on the state and local level. Our hope is that by sharing this model, fellow members of the philanthropic community will feel empowered to take more innovative approaches to effectively impact childcare access for our nation's most marginalized women. Progress is possible if we continue to break down silos and work together."