It’s Time to Fix Child Care – Reauthorization Bill Introduced in Senate

Last week, Senator Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Burr (R-NC), Senator Harkin (D-IA), and Senator Alexander (R-TN) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the primary federal grant program that provides child care assistance for families and funds child care quality initiative.  Child Care Aware® of America announced its support for the “Child Care Development and Block Grant Act of 2013” introduced today, which would reauthorize the program for the first time in over 17 years.

mikluskiCCDBG is administered to states in formula block grants. States use the grants to subsidize child care for working families earning low incomes. Most of this assistance is administered through vouchers or certificates, which can be used by parents for the provider or program of their choice. In addition, the law requires no less than 4 percent of CCDBG funding in each state to be used for activities to improve the overall quality of child care for all children within a community (for example, Child Care Resource & Referral services, training for child care providers, infant and toddler specialists, quality rating systems, etc.).

Over 20 years ago, Department of Defense (DoD) child care was not accountable, quality was poor, and the safety of children was compromised. Congress passed the Military Child Care Act in 1989 to ensure that funds would be spent in an accountable manner, that care would be of minimum quality, and that child care would be provided in an affordable manner for families. Child Care Aware® of America calls on Congress to use the lessons of the military to reauthorize and strengthen CCDBG so that civilian families have access to affordable, quality child care in all communities. Congress should also ensure that funding is sufficient so that eligible children are able to receive assistance.

Under S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2013 states would be required to:

  • Conduct comprehensive background checks (state and federal fingerprint checks, sex offender registry check, and check of the child abuse and registry for all licensed, regulated, or registered providers that receive CCDBG funds.
  • Inspect programs at least once before licensing, and at least one unannounced inspection annually.  Reports of the inspections must also be posted electronically.
  • Include a set of workforce and competency standards for providers, developed in consultation with the State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care, using evidence-based training frameworks, incorporating states early learning and development guidelines, developmentally appropriate practices for different age groups, English learners, and children with disabilities.
  • Training at a minimum would cover:
  • Child Abuse Recognition and Prevention
  • Developmentally Appropriate Practices
  • Early mathematics and early language and literacy development to support development in young children
  • Behavior management strategies
  • Supporting children with disabilities
  • Specialized care for infants and toddlers
  • Raise the eligibility period to 12-months, helping to ensure continuity of care for children and families.

This reauthorization bill is a huge step to move the nation forward ensuring children are safe and receiving the best early learning experiences while in child care. Children’s early years are proven to be the most impactful time to create strong learners. This bill sets the standard all families expect for their children.

CCDBG has not been reauthorized in 17 years. This bill includes a great deal of measures to improve the quality of child care and ensure that all children in child care settings are safe.  It is time to protect children in child care and promote their healthy development.

Click here to contact your Senator and urge them to cosponsor S. 1086 today!

Washington Auditor’s Report Finds Sex Offenders in Child Care

How important is it that child care providers have a background check?  On August 1, the Washington State Auditor’s Office released a report, Protecting Children from Sex Offenders in Child Care, Foster Care, and Schools.”  They conducted an audit within the state to determine if matching the state’s sex offender registry to information on child care and foster care providers and school employees would reveal results similar to Inspector General reports in other states (IL and KY come to mind).  The WA state auditor’s report found between 2002 and 2012:

    • 28 sex offenders lived in Department of Early Learning (DEL) or Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) regulated homes and 15 lived in state subsidized, but unlicensed, child care settings.
    • In 25 of the 28 cases, agency records indicated children were in care while sex offenders lived in the home.
    • In 9 of the 28 cases, sex offenders lived undetected in providers’ homes at the time of the audit.
    • In 24 of the 28 cases, sex offenders went undetected because providers failed to inform agencies that offenders lived in their homes. The remaining four cases involved the subsidized care program, Working Connections (their TANF program).  In these cases, offenders did not receive background checks and were able to live in the home because administrative rules did not address situations where the child and provider shared a home.

The state is working to correct the situation to ensure that children in child care safe.  Read the Washington Auditor’s report.

For more information about the importance of background checks to ensure that children are safe in child care, check out Child Care Aware® of America’s latest white paper: “Background Checks: It is Time to Protect Children.”

Background Checks Promote Children’s Safety in Child Care

Background checks for child care providers are essential to ensure that individuals who have a history of violent offenses are not licensed to provide child care or hired to work in a child care center.

Parents expect their children to be safe in child care. Many parents logically assume that background checks are required for licensed child care providers. The reality is that the logical assumptions of parents far exceed federal and state laws.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the federal law that allocates funds to states for child care and sets the parameters for state child care laws, does NOT require a background check for child care providers.

As a result, state background check requirements vary greatly, and few states require a comprehensive background check before granting a child care license to providers, hiring employees to work in a child care center, or allowing the receipt of a federal subsidy.

A comprehensive background check includes:

  • Checking Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) records (which are based on fingerprints).
  • Using fingerprints to check state criminal history records.
  • Checking the child abuse registry.
  • Checking the sex offender registry.

Background Checks are Necessary to Protect Children

The vast majority of child care providers are well-meaning adults who love caring for children and who seek to protect their safety and overall well-being. At the same time, studies have shown that there are some individuals who may not share those goals or who may be a risk to the safety and well-being of children. A background check acts as a sieve to exclude those individuals who should not be in the business of caring for unrelated children.  Read Child Care Aware of America’s latest white paper: Background Checks:  It is Time to Protect Children.