After nearly 20 years since the federal child care subsidy law saw any significant modifications, Congress has finally taken action on this important federal program that provides child care assistance for families and funds child care quality initiatives.
On November 17, the Senate passed the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Reauthorization Act of 2014 by a vote of 88 to 1. The bill was signed into law by President Obama on November 19.
The passage of the bill (S.1086) 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. 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 reauthorization also includes gradual increases in funding for the program by $390 million, from $2.36 billion in FY 2015 to $2.75 billion in 2020. However, this additional federal funding for child care must still be secured through the appropriations process during the next five years.
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 remain compliant and receive CCDBG funding. In FY 2014, California received $551,570,789 in federal CCDBG funds but will need to address new issues of cost as the state implements the new regulations.
For more information, please contact Roberto Viramontes at [email protected].