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!

Policies that Work for Working Families

Each week, nearly 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care setting for an average of 35 hours.

blogIt’s a statistic that gets mentioned often in conversations about the importance of child care in every community across the United States, and with good reason.  Working families understand the need to not only have their children in a child care setting that will keep them safe and out of harm’s way, but also to ensure that in the years where the most critical development occurs that they are in a setting that promotes early learning.

With so many families looking for safe, but affordable child care, one thing is certain; Families need effective and efficient policies that work for working families.

The good news is that Washington is paying attention.  In mid-February, in front of classrooms of pre-school children, the President announced a plan that would create public pre-k programs in every state, or help support the 39 states that already have pre-k programs.  In May, the Department of Health and Human Services released a proposed rule that would positively impact the quality of children in all child care settings, including special focus on health and safety measures.  And just this week, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced legislation 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, with enhanced health and safety standards to keep children safe in child care.

Click below to learn more about any of these policies:

For more information on the President’s Early Learning Proposal, click here.

For more information on the HHS Proposed Rule, click here.

For more information on the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2013, click here.

When Congress and the Administration are taking notice of the need for quality programs for children, from birth through age five, and taking action to make policies work better for the families that need them most, it’s important to make sure that we are supportive of all policies that work to support working families.  Whether those policies create and expand public pre-k programs, or assist in the development and expansion of partnerships between child care programs and Early Head Start programs, or require comprehensive background checks of all providers receiving federal funds to care for children, or even making it easier for parents to find and sort through information to learn more about the available options for quality child care in their area, the simple truth is that all of these policies benefit families and children.

Today is the National Early Learning Day of Action and advocates across the country are talking about why it’s critical to invest in young children.  Every child in every community across America deserves a fair shot at high quality and safe early learning opportunities that positively impact their development in the years when it’s most crucial.  Working families are the foundation for the entire country.  It’s time to make sure policies that work for working families, especially those that enhance their children’s early learning opportunities, are at the forefront of any policy discussion.