Child care law update allows states to streamline services

by Jillian Luchner

As the new child care law for working families, The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) of 2014, gets put to practice, state agencies should be on the lookout for avenues of coordination with other funding streams.  An Information Memorandum (IM) put out by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) suggests ways in which state agencies can specifically coordinate between CCDBG funds (also known as Child Care Development Funds - CCDF) and funds used in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program stating:

“We encourage CCDF and TANF Lead Agencies to jointly review policies, procedures, and practices in both child care programs, including transitions from TANF to CCDF child care and to identify opportunities for improved services and service delivery.”

CCDBG and TANF already have areas of overlap. States can use their TANF funds directly on childcare and they can also transfer up to 30% of TANF funds into the CCDBG program. The IM suggests, among other ideas, that states which fund childcare out of TANF funds look for ways to include those child care providers in the requirements for childcare providers included in the new CCDBG law.

Both TANF and CCDBG are important federal funding streams for afterschool and summer learning. For example, approximately 600,000 children receive CCDF assistance for their time before- and after school and during the summer. Children ages 6 to 13 represent 33 percent of all children receiving CCDF assistance.

Coordination between the two funding streams could include –

  • Coordinated systems of consumer education for families seeking services from social service agencies
  • Requiring the same health and safety standards for TANF and CCDBG child care
  • Enabling funds dedicated to quality improvements to be used for TANF funded programs
  • Establishing consistent provider payment rates
  • Jointly planning to service unmet needs and extend quality services to vulnerable and underserved populations

Child care services are essential to low income families, the ACF memorandum notes. “When low income parents receive help paying for child care, they are more likely to be employed, have more stable employment and have higher earnings…It also helps parents balance the demands of work and parenting by lessening their stress and supporting child and family well-being.”

The discussions now taking place in each state  to plan and implement the new law provide an excellent opportunity to improve the efficiency and impact of child care services for those in need.

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