Child care is a necessity for low-income and working parents, yet the cost of quality care often places it out of reach for these families. The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) recognizes that access to quality child care can make a powerful difference in children’s development and families’ well-being. This program provides federal funding for states to offset the cost of child care for low-income families with children under age 13, and supports state-level activities to improve the quality of child care available to families.

CCDBG was first enacted in 1990. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act created the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which consolidates discretionary funds appropriated for CCDBG with entitlement funds under the Social Security Act to create a single, unified federal child care funding stream to states. CCDF is administered by the Office of Child Care (OCC) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Historically, CCDF was viewed primarily as a workforce support, to help low-income families work or attend school. As understanding about the importance of early learning and development has grown[AG1], however, policymakers realized that child care programs that enable parents to work also play a crucial role in supporting children’s healthy development, learning, and school readiness. A bipartisan reauthorization of the CCDBG Act in November 2014—the first such legislation in 18 years—codifies that recognition and takes steps to support care that positively impacts children during their formative years while also allowing parents to enter into and remain in the workforce. Key revisions include health and safety requirements for child care providers, increasing quality, and improving transparency so families are equipped to choose care that best meets their child’s and family’s needs. Meeting these new standards will require investments in building both provider and state-level systems capacity to deliver, support, and oversee quality programs that support children’s development and learning, and to cover the costs of quality programs.

FFYF strongly supports the federal government’s continued partnership with states to support local providers to address the needs of children from low-income families. CCDBG is a critical piece of the federal-state early childhood continuum to ensure children birth to age 5 are ready for school and success in college, career, and life.

Looking ahead, FFYF is collaborating with state and national advocates to improve implementation of the new law. FFYF has a plan to leverage public support into a significant expansion of high-quality early learning from birth through age five. Increased funding for child care would make a critical difference in ensuring that children from low-income families are accessing the high-quality early learning experiences necessary to be ready for the first day of kindergarten.

Latest Update: In March of 2018, Congress passed an omnibus government spending bill that included a huge funding increase for some of the nation’s vital early learning and care programs. The bill was then signed into law by the president, officially funding the government through the end of September 2018. Within the omnibus bill was a bipartisan provision to increase funding for the CCDBG program to $5.226 billion – the single largest increase to CCDBG in the program’s history. This represents an increase of $2.37 billion over FY2017 levels and effectively doubles the program’s discretionary funding. FFYF is working to ensure lawmakers protect and strengthen these increases in future appropriations measures.