As we mentioned in our blog last month, 2015 was a momentous year for early childhood education and child care experiences as Congress reauthorized key programs and appropriated $1 billion new dollars to early learning. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), held a webinar which provided an overview of the proposed regulations published by the Office of Child Care and has released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), providing the opportunity for the public to comment with the goal of issuing final guidance in the Summer of this year.
As many remember, last year Congress passed the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 on a bipartisan basis. And president Obama signed it into law on November 19, 2014. The reauthorization was an historic re-envisioning of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program.
First and foremost, the revised purposes of CCDF added by Congress put an emphasis on promoting family involvement, improving high-quality care, improving actual child development of participating children and increasing the percentage of low-income children in high-quality programs and providing care for children while parents work.
The NPRM falls within four key focus areas. Please find a high level overview below. For a full description, please view the full ACF webinar recording here.
- Protect Health and Safety of Children in Child Care
- The NPRM adds to health and safety training and standards in place for specific topics such as first aid, CPR, and SIDS prevention for CCDF providers. The NPRM also adds clarification on child care monitoring and criminal background checks for providers.
- Helping Parents Make Informed Consumer Choices and Access Information to Support child Development
- This section helps parents make informed consumer choices and access information to support child development. Specifically, the NPRM sets up a consumer-friendly and easily accessible website that ensures the widest possible access to services for families.
- Provide Equal Access to Stable, High Quality Child Care for Low-Income Children
- The NPRM addresses promoting and improving continuity of care. For example, if a family’s income goes down, they are still able to keep their childcare and remain eligible for child care assistance in the future. Several provisions also provide clarification on enhancing provider payment rates to better serve children and families seeking subsidies. In other words, providers must examine their base pay and justify it as a means of meeting health and safety requirements within the law.
- Enhance the quality of childcare and the early childhood workforce
- This section focuses on quality improvement setting aside money over a five year period for general quality standards. A new three percent infant-toddler pool of money to improve supply and quality of the infant-toddler workforce. The NPRM also requires state have a framework for professional development and educating and training, allowing providers to really move up the ladder and improve quality.