After nearly 20 years since the federal child care subsidy law saw any significant modifications, Congress is finally taking action on this important federal program that provides child care assistance for families and funds child care quality initiatives.

Last week, House members voted in favor of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Reauthorization Act of 2014. The House bill includes amendments made to an earlier version passed by the Senate last March.

The vote is an important one for young children. Created in 1990, CCDBG provides funding that helps low-income families, working parents and parents in educational or job training programs to access child care services. According to Congressional Quarterly, approximately 1.5 million children under the age of 13 participate every month in some type of child care service supported through CCDBG. The Act has not seen a comprehensive reauthorization since 1996.

The reauthorization makes improvements intended to enhance child care quality and access of programs funded by CCDBG. Some key aspects in the bill include:

  • Improving the health and safety of children by requiring annual inspections for licensed and license-exempt providers
  • Improving families’ access to child care by creating a federal eligibility period of 12 months
  • Strengthening child care quality by increasing the funding amounts dedicated for quality-improvement activities (from 7 percent to 9 percent over five years)

The bill also includes gradual increases in funding for the program by $442 million, representing an additional 15.5 percent over its current funding level.

While this reauthorization marks a necessary step forward, California will have to align its early care and education system with the new benchmarks in order to receive CCDBG funding. The bill will return to the Senate one more time for final passage of the amended version of the reauthorization.

For more information, please contact Roberto Viramontes at [email protected].