The Senate voted 96-2 last week to pass the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG), a federal grant program that provides child care assistance to families and funding for child care initiatives.
The CCDBG was authored by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Burr (D-NC), along with Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and reflected feedback from parents, child care providers, and childhood development experts. It aims to improve the health and safety of the 1.5 million children and families who benefit from the federal child care subsidy program, by strengthening regulations for child care providers and facilities such as requiring background checks and inspections [PDF]. It will improve families’ access to child care by, among other changes, requiring states to use at least 70 percent of the grant’s funding for direct services [PDF]. It will also strengthen the quality of child care by requiring developmentally appropriate training for child care providers, and it will improve the coordination of early care and education.
“CCDBG provides a lifeline so that all children have the care that they need and deserve,” said Senator Mikulski. “Updating this vitally important child care program will help support those who care for our children, give parents peace of mind that their children are safe and receiving quality care, and better prepare our children for the future. It will help keep working parents at work while ensuring children have a safe environment that provides them the skills they need to begin to develop their potential and be better prepared for school.”
The CCDBG now moves to a vote in the House. If passed, this would be the first time the law has been reauthorized since 1996.
Media Resources: Senator Barbara Mikluski 3/13/14; Politico 3/13/14; National Women’s Law Center; Child Care Aware of America 3/11/14; US Senate