Why Child Care
Alabama Institute for Social Justice (AISJ), formerly known as the Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama, Inc. (FOCAL), was established in 1972 as a child-care advocacy agency in response to an outcry from a group of African-American women in Selma, Alabama, who sought to achieve quality and equitable child care for their children. While our mission has evolved, advocating for quality child care remains foundational to our body of work as we address barriers to quality education and job opportunities and ensure a seamless transition for human success from birth to adulthood.
Child care is a critical infrastructure that allows parents to enter and participate in the workforce while ensuring that our children receive high-quality care and education. Yet despite its role as an essential service for our families, communities, and economy, our child care system is significantly underfunded and under-resourced. Even before COVID-19, the state of the child care industry in Alabama was, at best, fragile, and in underserved communities, it was on life support. Today, however, we are in a state of crisis. If Alabama's economy and communities are to fully recover, we must address the issues resulting in child care becoming less and less accessible and affordable.
Our Child Care Mission
AISJ works to achieve meaningful and sustainable systems change in support of under-resourced children and families in Alabama’s Black Belt.
Child Care Policy Agenda
Make Child Care a Public Good
Change the approach to child care, which is currently treated as a private sector service available to those who can afford it, and instead treat it as a public good, vital to the wellbeing of our society and economy, and affordable and accessible for all.
Improve Workforce Development
Value the work of child care employees and the critical role they play in educating and caring for our youngest citizens by establishing compensation and benefits standards that provide a living wage and investing in professional development opportunities.
Remove Market-Rate Restrictions
Transition away from the failed market-rate model, which underfunds the actual cost of providing quality child care and early education, and implement a true cost-based model for funding child care.
Improve the Regulatory Environment
Improve communication and collaboration with state and local agencies, simplify regulations, and remove obstacles that child care providers face so that they can focus on what they do best – running a business and providing quality care and education.