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Congress Introduces New Child Care Legislation

Today, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Representatives Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) introduced the “Child Care Access to Resources for Early Learning Act of 2016” (The Child C.A.R.E. Act).

The “Child Care Access to Resources for Early Learning Act,” would make a landmark investment in the Child Care and Development Fund that helps families with young children afford high-quality child care.

Access to high-quality child care and early education not only promotes a child’s development, but it also helps support parents who are struggling to balance work and family. This legislation helps Americans meet the needs of their jobs and their families which ultimately bolsters and expands the middle class. A safe, nurturing environment that enriches children’s development is critical to working families and is one of the best investments we can make in our economy. Yet today, a year of child care costs higher than a year of in-state tuition at most colleges – putting a significant strain on parents.

Specific provisions of the legislation will help:

  • Infants and toddlers who are living at or below 200% of the Federal poverty level (FPL), gain access to high-quality child care by FY 2021. In addition, this bill would help ensure both parents and child care providers have the resources they need to support early care and learning for children under age four by boosting the overall funding currently authorized under the CCDBG Act of 2014.
  • Child Care Providers would also assist child care providers by ensuring payment rates are set at a level high enough to support high-quality care for young children, and help infant and toddler providers in improving the quality of their programs by strengthening the skills of the workforce, and ensure that children receive comprehensive services by coordinating activities with other community service providers. In an effort to accomplish this effort, the legislation seeks to align the workforce requirements with the 2015 National Academies of Science report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8.
  • Quality of child care for all. In 2014, Congress acted on a bipartisan basis to pass child care legislation that includes much-needed reforms to improve the quality and safety in child care settings, including requiring training for providers to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, instituting annual inspections of child care facilities, and comprehensive background checks of all providers. This bill would provide the resources to help states implement those important reforms and support the expansion of access to quality child care programs staffed by early educators that can provide developmentally appropriate services that promote the healthy development and school readiness of young children
  • Tribes would also ensure that quality infant and toddler child care is a strong component of a continuum of quality early learning within states and tribes.

TAKE ACTION NOW by asking your member of Congress to sign on as a co-sponsor of this legislation!

FAQ’s

How Would the Funding Allotment Work?

This legislation would provide approximately $25 billion in new mandatory funding over five years.

States are the only eligible entity, and to receive funding, they must commit to maintain the caseload of children currently served under the existing CCDF programs, raise the quality of existing child care for children under age four, and expand access of services to all eligible children (ages four and under) by 2021.

The funding would be allocated based on the ratio of the state’s population of children under the age of four at or below 200% FPL, relative to the national total. A state must apply for and provide matching funds consistent with the requirements under CCDF for all portions of new funding in order to receive an allocation.

How Would This Bill Affect CCDF FY 2016-2018 State Plans?

This legislation would require states to submit an amendment to its CCDF State Plan to the Department of Health and Human Services that includes a description of the following:

  • How the state will increase the number of quality child care slots for families at or below 200% of FPL with children under the age of four to ensure access to quality child care for all eligible families who need it by FY 2021;
  • How the state will improve the quality of child care for children under four;
  • How the state will maintain the current number of children served, including those over age four; and
  • How the state will establish the cost of quality care for children under four (and update it at least once every three years) to ensure that provider payment rates are sufficient to support high quality education, consistent with Head Start and Early Head Start’s education and child development standards;
  • The state’s needs assessment that includes addressing the needs of special populations, including populations that face barriers in accessing care;
  • How the state will establish a continuum of care from birth to kindergarten, and align infant/ toddler care with other early learning programs;
  • How the state will partner with other organizations to ensure children and their families receive comprehensive services similar to those provided in Early Head Start;
  • The state’s parental engagement plan in children’s early learning; and
  • How the state will collaborate with the tribal community.

How Would This Bill Expand Access to Quality Child Care?

The bill would mandate that states reserve at least 80% of the funds they receive for direct services (grants, contracts, etc.) to improve access to quality child care for children under age four.  States must develop ambitious and measurable goals for increasing access to care, including increasing the number of children served, while ensuring payment rates are sufficient to support providers in meeting quality standards by 2021. These standards include:

  • Having credentials or degrees in early learning;
  • Operating during hours that meet the needs of working families;
  • Providing a high-quality learning environment (similar to Early Head Start);
  • Aligning with State early guidelines;
  • Parental Engagement; and
  • Partnering with public and private organizations to ensure children receive comprehensive services

How Would this Legislation Enhance the Quality of Infant/ Toddler Care?

Under the CCDBG Act of 2014, states must dedicate at least a minimal amount (9% by FY 2020) for quality care for infants and toddlers. The Child CARE Act would amend CCDBG and require States to set-aside at least 12% by FY 2021.

What About Early Learning Expansion for Tribes?

Native America tribes are eligible to apply for funds to expand access to quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate child care, enhance the quality of care, and align their early learning system. Tribes may apply for this funding via an amendment to their CCDF plans, and HHS will establish the requirements for what will be included.

14 comments

  1. Connie Merlet on

    Here’s the problem with these bills, and I am including the CCDBG Act of 2014. I am a private daycare. Private. I consider myself similar to the thousands of private schools in the US, schools which have protections like other private businesses in our country. However, because these bills include me in their rules, they effectively make private childcare non-existent in this country. You don’t think this, and you don’t want to believe it, but every private daycare provider in this country knows it to be true. We are the lowest profit business in the country, so we don’t have much power, and the need for daycare is very great, so you don’t think you need to discuss specifics of these bills with us, but in essence, you are not going to ultimately help the neediest kids because you’re going to be supplementing wealthy families at the same time that you take individualism out of childcare. Already states are telling parents that they aren’t good enough. These bills impugn the ability of caregivers and force all children to learn in environments that are not always the choices of their parents.

    Reply
    • Vicky Dougherty on

      It sounds to me like you are a conscientious and caring provider, however, I’m afraid you are the exception. Children deserve to be safe in any day care environment and often providers can open for business without any inspection of the premises or the equipment( play pens, cribs,toys, etc.) that will be used. Many providers lack training in safe sleep practices and other child development issues – while I do not take the responsibility and freedom from parents to make choices regarding where they have to leave their children several hours a day while they work, the decision for the parents needs to be an INFORMED decision, giving them as much information as possible. I am a private business owner too- TV and appliance repair and we have requirements like liability insurance, criminal driving and drug screening for technicians and other ‘costs of doing business’. It is unfortunate providers have to operate on slim profits, I believe they should be paid better, but they cannot make it up by watching too many children than is safe. Every state has different regulations regarding staff to child ratios,inspections, etc. There should be certain MINIMUM safety and quality standards across the board to ensure our kids first are SAFE, and hopefully nurtured and educated.

      Reply
      • Michelle on

        I’m in California. I am licensed which means I am required to have training (CPR/First Aid, Health and Safety, safe sleep practices, etc), 1-3 inspections per year, background checks, and I had to pass a strict initial inspection. I also have to have certain insurances and much of my cost of business is only partially counted as business since I work out of my home. Although I think there are some providers like you described, there are a great number of us who are highly educated, trained, licensed professionals. I do agree that the government needs to do more to make child care affordable and high quality but they shouldn’t forget that home care is the best option for many children.

        Reply
    • Betty Bardige on

      As a former board member of NAFCC, the National Association for Family Child Care, I strongly believe in a mixed delivery system that includes private programs that can be responsive to the needs of particular children, families, and communities. For many children — especially infants and toddlers — family child care is likely to be the best option. I was so pleased to see that the C.A.R.E. Act specifically includes family chid care, that it refers to Early Head Start and Head Start standards that include family child care, that it generates new resources for infants, toddlers, and three year olds that do not come at the expense of older children, that it focuses primarily on children whose families earn below 200% of poverty, and especially that it insists upon a distribution of funds that enables fair and adequate compensation for providers. I would hope that caring, activist, private providers of high quality early care and education like you would be among its strongest supporters — and would help ensure that it is implemented in a way that supports a diverse, high quality system that includes and sustains family child care.

      Reply
  2. Charmayne on

    Here’s the problem with these bills, and I am including the CCDBG Act of 2014. I am a private daycare. Private. I consider myself similar to the thousands of private schools in the US, schools which have protections like other private businesses in our country. However, because these bills include me in their rules, they effectively make private childcare non-existent in this country. You don’t think this, and you don’t want to believe it, but every private daycare provider in this country knows it to be true. We are the lowest profit business in the country, so we don’t have much power, and the need for daycare is very great, so you don’t think you need to discuss specifics of these bills with us, but in essence, you are not going to ultimately help the neediest kids because you’re going to be supplementing wealthy families at the same time that you take individualism out of childcare. Already states are telling parents that they aren’t good enough. These bills impugn the ability of caregivers and force all children to learn in environments that are not always the choices of their parents

    Reply
  3. Sheila Freeman on

    Here’s the problem with these bills, Parenting is the key to life of a healthy child. You have to work with the parent weekly. Teaching about the growth of the learning the children need to move forward. Tip into the home to see if the parent and children have the right tools. Plan on site hours for parent to come in for in house ( class) visit for 30 min. a month. It keep parents in touch with the children.

    Reply
  4. Karl Hess, MD, FAAP on

    There is a difference between a business and a profession. Professions have obligations to the public, not just to shareholders or their own income. Too many in medicine operate as a business, harming a lot of patients.

    I think children need to be protected in this selfish society. Look at the narcissist running for president for an example. Don’t tell me to stay out of politics, that supports the status quo, and the US has the unhealthiest children in the developed world. Anyone happy with that? Abundant documentation is available on the web. What regulations would ensure that childcare providers receive adequate salaries, and that children receive excellent care. We all pay a high price for children who do not receive excellent care, just like we will for congress’ refusal to fund an adequate strategy for Zika.

    Karl

    Reply

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