Time to Strengthen the Child Care and Development Block Grant

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary source of federal child care funding for states.  Under CCDBG, funds are allocated to each state to help make child care more affordable for families and to help states engage in activities to improve the quality of child care.   The CCDBG statute contains few requirements, which has resulted in state laws that vary greatly.  In some states, a child care license is not required until 13 children are cared for in a home.  In many states, very little training is required for child care providers.  While child care policies are generally weak, oversight of those policies is even weaker.  Some states only conduct inspections every five or ten years.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant law has not been reviewed or reauthorized in 17 years.  Bipartisan legislation was recently introduced to strengthen the law – S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2013.  In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recently proposed new regulations in an effort to strengthen the law to the extent possible under existing regulatory authority.  The comment period with regard to the new regulations is open to the public through August 5, 2013.

About 1.6 million children throughout the country receive child care assistance. The CCDBG law does not require that subsidies be used in licensed child care.  What does that mean?  About 18 percent or about 290,000 children are in unlicensed care.  While state licensing laws vary with regard to minimum health and safety protections for children, there are no minimums for unlicensed care.  Where are the children whose care is paid for with taxpayer dollars? See the tables below to see state by state information about taxpayer funded child care in your state.

Children Whose Care is Paid for Through CCDBG

Community economic vitality depends on the availability of quality, affordable child care.  The fact is that families with young children need child care to work.  And, child care is expensive.  All children in child care should be in settings that are safe and promote their healthy development.  When taxpayer dollars are used to assist families, there should be some accountability in the expenditure of those funds so that children are not in potential danger financed through public funds.  Both the Senate bill and the HHS proposed regulations will help strengthen the quality of child care and the accountability for child care funding.  Call your Senators today and urge support for S. 1086 introduced by Senators Mikulski, Burr, Harkin, and Alexander.  Comment on the HHS regulations and let the federal government know it’s time to strengthen federal policy to protect children.

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