New Federal Law Brings Changes
If you follow any political news in the U.S., you've probably heard the word "gridlock"mentioned with reference to Congress. In other words, not a lot gets done in D.C. these days, or at least that is the perception. Occasionally, though, bipartisan bills do actually pass through both the House and Senate and get signed into law by the President!
It just so happens that a very recent one, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014, will have a substantial impact on access to quality care for millions of working families across the country.
The CCDBG is not new. It has been around for 20 years. However, this is the first time it has ever been reauthorized, and there are some key changes aimed at improving both access and quality. The program is administered by the states and allows low-income working families to use vouchers to pay for high-quality child care. If your center serves any of the 11 million young children who rely on CCDB funds, you will be hearing about these changes from your state very soon, if you haven't already. Even if your center does not take in any CCDBG funds, these changes will almost surely affect you, as well, because such policies are intended to promote widespread, industry-wide change.
In addition to a significant increase in funding for block grants-thus extending access to many more families-the new CCDBG emphasizes increased funding directly for infant and toddler care, significant new staff training requirements, and new formulas/methods to make payments to care providers more stable and reliable.
Here are some of the key features of the CCDBG Act:
[Adapted from childcareaware.org]
Safeguarding the health and safety of children:
- States must provide pre-service health & safety training to all CCDBG providers.
- States must develop health & safety standards related to things such as first aid & CPR, prevention of SIDS, and child abuse prevention.
- States must perform at least one annual inspection and at least one pre-licensure inspection of CCDBG providers and an annual fire, health, and safety inspection of license-exempt CCDBG providers.
- Individuals who provide care for children with the support of CCDBG funding must undergo a comprehensive background check.
Improving program quality while simultaneously ensuring that federal funds support low-income and at-risk children and families:
- States must set aside three percent of funding to expand access and improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.
- Allows state funding of resource and referral systems to help families connect with quality child care.
Providing protections for children and families who receive assistance:
- Families who initially qualify for a subsidy get care for at least a year, regardless of changes in income or work, training, or education status.
- De-links provider reimbursement with unforeseen child absences to stabilize child care providers' business
- Prioritizes services for families with the lowest incomes
Strengthening coordination and alignment to contribute to a more comprehensive early childhood education and care system:
- Requires States to coordinate with existing early education and care programs.
See additional articles in this newsletter for more information and be on the lookout for changes soon. Remember, the CCDBG is designed to improve both access and quality, goals every early care provider should embrace!