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How federal government funding is supporting child care in the states

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How federal government funding is supporting child care in the states

Economic recovery cannot happen without child care, including quality, comprehensive care for school-age children of working parents. If the concern has not already impacted you directly, you may have become aware from the news stories which keep flooding in.

In a first effort of emergency support for child care providers which was part of the CARES Act signed into law in late March , the federal government provided an additional $3.5 billion dollars (to be obligated through September 2022) through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program with new flexibility for states to help mitigate some of the impact on the sector.

The funding along with an Information Memorandum from the Administration of Children and Families was released to states in late April. 

The April 29 memo, which is worth a read for those in the field, makes clear that CARES Act funding can be used for:

  • Keeping programs operational and available: To help child care programs remain operational or ready to return to operations when needed, including by providing funding based on enrollment rather than attendance. This also includes “lead Agencies may also provide temporary grants to impacted providers to retain the child care supply during periods of closures.”
  • Serving children of essential workers and defining child care workers as essential: To establish new programs designed to serve children of essential workers; “to waive family copayments for specific populations—such as essential workers,” and for lead agencies, in recommended consultation with local jurisdictions, to define which workers are essential – including considering child care workers as essential. A list of suggested essential workers is included in the memo for reference.
  • Supporting all child care providers: To include support for providers that have not received CCDBG funds in the past, including support for cleaning and sanitization, personal protective equipment, and professional development.
  • Simultaneously supporting a child and a provider: Clarifying CARES act funds can both pay a closed provider for a child that used to be in their care to sustain future operations, while also paying a new provider for the child’s daily care during the emergency if, for example, that child is the child of an essential worker.,
  • Spending flexibility: Exempting the additional CARES funds from the set asides for direct services and quality required in other CCDBG spending.
  • Policy Flexibility: Clarifying when states can amend a state plan as opposed to when they need to work with the federal government to apply for a waiver to the federal law.

And the new memo builds on the Department of Health Human Services’ Office of Child Care Frequently Asked Questions document which also highlights and reiterates existing flexibility within the broader CCDBG funds, outside of just the additional CARES funding. These flexibilities include:

  • Flexibility with CCDBG quality dollars: stating “nothing in the law prevents Lead Agencies from also using CCDF quality dollars to benefit all child care providers, regardless of whether they are eligible to serve or are currently serving children receiving CCDF subsidies”
  • Defining Children in Need of Protective Services: The lead agency has broad authority to define this category under the law, including to consider children of essential workers and other at-risk children in this designation. This waives CCDBG eligibility requirements of who can be served. States can also set their eligibility levels at the federal maximum to engage more children in need.

The $3.5 billion is a welcome first step, but as the articles and programs in the field can attest the amount is nowhere near adequate to address the full need of the struggling child care sector. The child care field, including school-age afterschool and summer learning programs is in the process of assessing the full cost of bringing program care back on line in consideration of the many new needs surfaced during the pandemic, including lower staff ratios, cleaning, personal protective equipment, additional space to ensure social distancing and more. Additional funding support will be needed as the response to the pandemic continues.

Other Resources of Interest:

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The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming in just a few days. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

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Picture a center filled with computers, paired with a wood and metal shop, combined with a sewing studio, mixed with an arts and crafts room, filled with people of all ages building and making things to solve problems – this is the foundation of a maker space. Maker spaces were born out of...

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/19

Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming at the end of April. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

BY: Leah Silverberg      04/15/19

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In July 2018, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, or Perkins V, was passed by Congress and signed into law. The legislation reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and provides much needed updates to the law that reflect the...

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Investments in quality afterschool STEM policy will continue in 2019

For successful advocacy efforts, slow and steady wins the race. Advancing legislation or budget requests at the state or federal level requires resources, content expertise, and a dedication that often spans a timeframe far longer than originally anticipated. As we enter the third year of a...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/18/18

What does the Trump administration’s 5-Year STEM Education Strategy mean for afterschool?

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BY: Chris Neitzey      12/07/18

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After celebrating an updated law in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in July, it’s natural to ask “What’s next?” in the education landscape for Congress. One thing on the agenda is the Higher Education Act, or HEA, which governs federal investments in making quality...

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