The fight for quality child care continues in November (CCDBG Reauthorization Update)

Friday, September 12, 2014, House and Senate leaders reached a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. Negotiated by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC), the agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care.

After the original bill was introduced in the Senate on June 3, 2013, the Senate voted to pass S.1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) of 2014 on March 13th, 2014 by a vote of 96-2 and the House passed the amended version of the bill on September 15, 2014.

timeline

Timeline of S.1086 in Congress:

June 3, 2013: Senator Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Burr (R-NC), Senator Harkin (D-IA), and Senator Alexander (R- TN) Introduce S.1086, a bill to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Continue reading

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes CCDBG Reauthorization Bill: Day 2 Recap

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 11.21.44 PMIn an effort to significantly improve the quality of child care across the nation and to prove that it is possible for the Senate to work in regular order, in a bipartisan manner.  By a vote of 96-2, the Senate approved S.1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, turning the focus over to the House of Representatives for action.

The Senators voting in favor of passage for the bill included 53 Democrats, 42 Republicans, and 2 Independents.  Only Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) voted against the measure, while Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) did not vote on the bill.

Throughout the second day of Senator floor consideration for S.1086, the Senate adopted 10 amendments covering a wide-range of topics related to the bill.  Nine of the amendments were adopted by voice vote, while only one of the amendments was adopted by a roll call vote, Senator Coburn’s measure to help ensure that child care assistance is not being supplied to those with an income greater than $1 million annually.

The country has definitely taken notice as the passage of the bipartisan S.1086 has led headlines. To read more about the media’s take on the passage of the bill, check out this article from Politico – Senate passes child care bill

While passage out of the Senate was an important step forward to improving the quality of child care, the process is far from finished as the House of Representatives will be pressured to take action.  The good news is that the prospects coming out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee have seemingly increased the odds that CCDBG Reauthorization will be looked at in this upcoming year.

Today, immediately following the passage of S.1086 out of the Senate, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Rep. John Kline (R-MN) released this statement:

“Senate passage of legislation to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant is a step forward in the shared goal of strengthening the nation’s existing network of early childhood services. The bill includes several commonsense provisions that will help empower parents and enhance coordination between CCDBG and other federal early care programs, such as Head Start. The committee will convene a hearing on March 25, 2014 to examine House priorities for CCDBG, and I look forward to a productive discussion as we work to find common ground and complete the reauthorization of this important program.”

This is a huge win for working families in this country.  This bill contains many common-sense measures for helping protect children in child care, such as requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks, ensuring annual inspections are conducted and requiring childcare providers receive training on CPR, first aid, and safe sleep practices.

We are one step closer to ensuring children are safe and receiving quality early learning experiences while in child care. The research is clear, children’s early years are proven to be the most important time to create strong learners. This bill sets the standard families expect for their children.

Please join us to thank the Senate for standing up for children and working families by voting yes to reauthorize CCDBG.

Click here to thank your Senator for voting Yes on S.1086

Senate Takes Up CCDBG Reauthorization: Day 1 Recap

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) kicked off the floor action on the bill earlier this morning and stated, “In the two decades since this important program was last authorized, we’ve learned a great deal about the importance of early childhood education and high-quality child care. This bipartisan measure builds on that knowledge, it updates health and safety standards for child-care centers and requires providers to undergo comprehensive background checks.”  After moving onto roll-call votes for nominations and finishing those votes, the four Senators leading the effort took the floor for their opening remarks:

Excerpts from the remarks:

“Each year, the Child Care and Development Block Grant program helps more than 1.5 million low-income children nationwide, including 39,000 in Tennessee, have the kind of early learning and care that can help put them on the same starting line as other children.  The program works because it supports parents going to work or getting an education, and gives them the freedom to choose the child care that is right for their family.”-       Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

“Every family in America with children is concerned about child care. They wonder if it’s available. They wonder if it’s affordable. They worry if it’s safe. And they’re also concerned if it helps their children be ready to learn.  These worries weigh heavily on the shoulders of parents everywhere. Our bill helps lift that burden – giving families and children the child care they need.  This bill, as I said, is the product of bipartisan effort.  Child care is something all families worry about regardless of zip code or income. This bill ensures that all children have the care that they need and deserve. What we did was focus on what these needs are. “-       Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the rest of the speech in its entirety can be seen here.

Senator Richard Burr’s (R-NC) Floor Speech in its entirety can be seen here.

Status of Amendments:

As a bipartisan bill from the beginning, working through regular order, S. 1086 has become seen as a beacon of hope for the Senate to return to regular order as the norm, not the exception.  To encourage participation throughout the Upper Chamber, Senators Burr and Mikulski pushed their colleagues to submit related amendments to the bill for a quality discussion on where the bill could stand to improve.  By day’s end, the number of submitted amendments for S.1086 totaled around 20, with some already receiving debate and votes.  The following list will provide background on the amendment, the sponsors of that amendment, and whether any action was taken on that amendment.

The Amendments:
 
No.  2805
Sponsors: Fischer (R-NE), King (I-ME), Rubio (R-FL)
Summary: Would limit the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to regulate non-diagnostic medical software
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2807
Sponsors: Gillibrand (D-NY)
Summary:  Would allow for tax deduction of child care expenses of up to $7,000 for 1 qualifying child and up to $14,000 for 2 or more qualifying children.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2808
Sponsors: Murphy (D-CT)
Summary:  Would increase dollar limitation on tax exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2809
Sponsors: Boxer (D-CA), Burr (R-NC)
Summary: Would amend Section 231 of the Crime Control Act of 1990 by enhancing background check requirements for individuals working with children.  The Boxer/Burr Amendment would apply the same comprehensive background check requirement to federal lands that S. 1086 requires of states.
Actions: Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2810
Sponsors: Boxer (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY)
Summary:  Would make changes to the IRS Tax Code by provides increases to the Employer-provided Child Care Credit and the Dependent Care Credit, creating a new credit for individuals holding child care-related degrees who work in licensed child care facilities, and a credit for providers who meet certain measures.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2811
Sponsors: Harkin (D-IA)
Summary: Would clarify “rural and remote areas” as underserved populations.
Actions: Submitted, Harkin (D-IA) submitted substitute, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2812
Sponsors:  Enzi (R-WY)
Summary:  Would require the Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Department of Education to conduct a review of all early learning and care programs to develop a plan to eliminate duplicative and overlapping programs and make recommendations for streamlining all programs.  Report would be due to Congress within 1 year of enactment.
Actions:  Adopted 98-0
 
No.  2813
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA), Grassley (R-IA), Inhofe (R-OK)
Summary:  Would allow children in foster care to receive services under the CCDBG Act while their families (including foster families) are taking necessary action to comply with immunization and other health and safety
Actions:  Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2814
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA), Blunt (R-KS), Inhofe (R-OK)
Summary:  Would require the state plan to describe how the state will coordinate the services supported to carry out the CCDBG Act with state agencies and programs serving children in foster care and the foster families of such children
Actions:  Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2815
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA), Inhofe (R-OK)
Summary: Would require the state plan to describe how the state will develop and       implement strategies to increase the supply and improve the quality of child care with state agencies and programs serving children in foster care and the foster families of such children.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2816
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA)
Summary:  Would require each child care staff member providing direct services to children has earned a degree, which may be an associate’s degree or a baccalaureate degree, in early childhood education or a closely related field; and on and after a provided date, the child care provider will hire only individuals who have earned that degree.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2817
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA)
Summary:  Would not more than 1% be reserved for the Secretary to conduct a “Quality and effectiveness evaluation,” which would evaluate the quality and effectiveness of activities carried out, using scientifically valid research methodologies, in order to increase the understanding of State and local program administrators concerning the practices and strategies most likely to produce positive outcomes.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2818
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA), Mikulski (D-MD)
Summary:  Would require that the State plan shall demonstrate the manner in which the State will address the needs of children in child care services provided through programs authorized under this subchapter, including the need for safe child care, during the period before, during, and after a state of emergency declared by the Governor or a major disaster or emergency.  Would include a statewide child care disaster plan for coordination of activities and collaboration between among the State agency with jurisdiction over human services, the agency with jurisdiction over State emergency planning, the State lead agency, the State agency with jurisdiction over licensing of child care providers, the local resource and referral organizations, the State resource and referral system, and the State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care.
Actions: Adopted 98-0
 
No.  2819
Sponsors: Scott (R-SC)
Summary: To clarify that nothing in this bill shall be construed or applied in any manner that would favor or promote the use of grants and contracts over the use of child care certificates; or that would disfavor or discourage the use of such certificates for the purchase of child care services, including those services provided by private or nonprofit entities, such as faith-based provider.
Actions:  See Senate Amendment no. 2837.
  
 
No.  2820
Sponsors: Lee (R-UT)
Summary: Would require each parent, who applies for assistance for child care services for a child to include the name and valid identification number of the child on the application, which could include a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2821
Sponsors: Lee (R-UT)
Summary:  Would prohibit states from reporting information to the federal government that contains personally identifiable information
Actions: Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2822
Sponsors: Franken (D-MN)
Summary: Would set aside at least 2 percent of funds appropriated each fiscal year for Child Care and Development Block Grants for payments to American Indian tribes and tribal organizations.
Actions: Adopted 93-6
 
No.  2824
Sponsors: Bennett (D-CO)
Summary: Would require states that combine funding for child care block grants with other federal early childhood education programs — including Head Start and programs assisting low-income children, those that are homeless or those with disabilities — to describe how it will they will use the combined funding.
Actions: Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2837
Sponsors: Scott (R-SC)
Summary: See Senate Amendment no. 2819
Actions: Adopted by Voice Vote
 

Tomorrow’s Floor Schedule and Timing

The Senate will reconvene Thursday morning at 9:30am and continue voting on amendments.  Although Senate Majority Leader Reid mentioned that the vote may not occur until next week, Senators Burr and Mikulski have strongly stated that they expect the vote to happen Thursday around 2:00pm Eastern.  We will keep you updated with all of the relevant information as it comes available.

To keep up with the action as it happens, you can watch the C-SPAN feed here or follow our twitter feed at @usachildcare.

It’s your last chance to let your Senators know that they need to support S.1086.

Take Action Now!

Mikulski and Rogers Unveil Omnibus Spending Bill for FY2014

(Courtesy House and Senate Appropriations committees)

(Courtesy House and Senate Appropriations committees)

Senate Appropriations Chair Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and House Appropriations Chair Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY) introduced an Omnibus Spending bill for Fiscal Year 2014 on Monday night, searching for an end to years of partisan budget battles and averting another government shutdown.  The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 consolidates the 12 appropriations bills into a single spending bill designed to more efficiently pass through both chambers of Congress without considerable time spent on debate and passage.

The first Omnibus spending bill likely to move since the passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, this Omnibus bill would set discretionary spending levels for the federal government at $1.012 Trillion for the rest of the 2014 Fiscal Year, ending on September 30, 2014. Building off the framework from the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 that passed in December, the Omnibus spending bill sets discretionary spending levels in-between where the Senate ($1.058 Trillion) and House ($967 Billion) had previously proposed.  With the new Omnibus spending bill, $45 Billion in cuts due to the sequester would be replaced.

In addition to preventing another government shutdown, continuous budget battles, and another round of sequester cuts, this spending bill includes a commitment to investing in early childhood programs that is encouraging in a time of fiscal restraint.  With many early childhood programs receiving additional funding over post-sequestration FY2013 levels, including Head Start which was fully restored to pre-sequestration levels, this spending bill provides additional investments in CCDBG, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, the Community Services Block Grant, IDEA Part C, and RTT-Preschool Development Grants

Some of the investments in early childhood programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 include:

Child Care and Development Block Grant: CCDBG FY2014 Discretionary levels set at $2.36 billion).  Although the total discretionary funding amount falls short of the $2.5 billion set forth in Harkin’s Labor-HHS Appropriations bill introduced over the summer, it still represents a $154 million increase to the program over 2013.  Additional set-asides for CCDBG include:

  • Child Care Resource and Referral Activities: $19,357,000
  • National Toll-Free Hotline: $996,000
  • Quality Expenditures: $296,484,000
  • Infant and Toddler Quality Improvements: $108,732,000
  • Child Care Research: $9,851,000

Head Start: $8.6 billion for Head Start ($1.025 billion increase).  This fully restores previous cuts to Head Start and supports a 1.3 % cost of living increase for all current grantees.  Another key component included in the deal is $500 million to expand Early Head Start, including the establishment of new EHS-Child Care Partnerships.  This increase will provide “high quality Early Head Start services to approximately 40,000 additional children, more than one-third increase.  Through these new partnerships, EHS will partner with local center and home-based child care programs to improve the quality of those programs to meet Early Head Start standards.  This leverages investments through the Child Care and Development Fund and will further improve the quality of early childhood care and education options for infants and toddlers.”

RTT-Preschool Development Grants:  The spending bill allows for the allocation of $250 million to be used for grants to States to help them develop, enhance or expand high quality preschool programs for children 4 and over from low and moderate income families or for other early learning activities that improve the quality of such programs.

IDEA Part C: Includes an increase of $18,000,000 for the grants for infants and toddlers.

As the table below shows, the funding levels for these core early childhood programs have been proposed at different levels from FY2013 Proposals and Enactment.

Funding for Child Care and Related Programs

FY 2013 – FY2014

($ in Millions) Program President’s FY 2013 Proposal FY 2013 Enacted President’s FY 2014 Proposal FY 2014 Omnibus Spending Bill
Child Care & Development Block GrantDiscretionary $2,603 $2,206 $2,478 $2,360
Social Services Block Grant (SSBG/Title XX) $1,700 $1,600 $1,700 $1,700
Head Start(EHS-CC Partnerships) $8,054 $7,600 $9,621 ($1,400) $8,600($500)
Preschool Development Grants - - $750 $250

Next Steps:  As mentioned earlier, after a short three-day continuing resolution is passed to fund the government past the 15th of January to avoid another period without federal funding, the House and Senate will then vote on the 1500+ page bill.  With support of the leaders in both the House and Senate and the Administration, passage of the bill is expected, as is the signature of the President, which would signal a temporary relief of budget and appropriations battles until near the next deadline of September 30, 2014.

Although there is still work to do, take the time to send a tweet to Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Jerry Moran, Senator Richard Shelby, Representative Hal Rogers, Representative Jack Kingston, Representative Nita Lowey, and Representative Rosa Delauro to let them know your appreciation for a commitment to a quality early learning experience for young children and families.