Child Care Proposals

There are a number of proposals for reconsidering federal child care policy being considered at this time. This page looks at a comparison of the proposals across a number of different key areas. It looks only at the child care components and not the Pre-K or Head Start Provisions.

As a field we know school-age programs need equal attention to access and quality. This includes:

  • Increased investments to increase access for parents in need of quality school-age programming
  • setting and age appropriate licensing with consideration of programs occurring on school grounds,
  • professional development systems which include positive youth development at least up to early adolescence,
  • quality systems which include school age standards and school-age specific observational tools,
  • cost of quality studies inclusive of school-age programs,
  • staff compensation and support for the unique needs of the school age workforce (which can include part-time and seasonal, summer camp workers, college and high school students, and professionals with elementary education, recreation and youth development degrees), and
  • administrative structures that look at and coordinate needs across the 0-13 continuum which may include – school-age staff at the agency, school-age programs at the decision-making table, consumer education and mapping inclusive of a broad selection of school-age programs, coordination with school-age entities such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers or other education related entities,  and involvement of statewide afterschool networks

We look for policies and investments that ensure school-age programs will have opportunities to grow, develop and serve across those areas.

Legislation:

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant: Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) – Current Law reauthorized in 2014
  • Child Care for Working Families Act (CCFWF) - Senate Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act of 2019, which was re-introduced in April of 2021. The proposed legislation (S. 1360/H.R. 2817)) has 36 senate and 105 house co-sponsors, all democrats.
  • Build Back Better (BBB)- In September of 2021, House Democrats introduced and passed a large legislative reconciliation package (H.R. 5376) known as the Build Back Better Act, which included provisions for Birth through 5 Child Care and an Early Learning Entitlement. In December of 2021, the Senate introduced their updated text of the act (with Child Care in Subtitle D – Page 85). The bill, which has not received any republican support, been able to garner the 50 Senate Democratic votes needed for a reconciliation package.
  • Child Care Development Block Grant Reauthorization of 2022 (CCDBG 2022)- Senate Republicans, led by bill sponsor Tim Scott (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced their own version of a revised child care policy in March 2022, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act of 2022, with 6 additional co-sponsors.
  • In early May 2022, news reports suggested, Senator’s Murray (D-WA) and Kaine (D-VA) were working on another modified proposal, the Revised Child Care and Preschool Reconciliation Proposal here referred to as R-BBB for revised Build Back Better. At present only summaries of the proposal are available. The proposal is summarized at the end of the comparison chart.

Comparison Chart:

Eligibility: The Current eligibility under CCDBG funding is limited to families at 85% of a state’s median income (SMI).

CCFWF

CCFWF and CCDBG 2022 would both raise the eligibility level to families up to 150% of SMI. CCFWF would raise eligibility over a number of years and CCDBG 2022 would allow it at any time so long as those under the 85% marker would still retain the first opportunity to receive eligible services.

CCDBG 2022

CCFWF and CCDBG 2022 would both raise the eligibility level to families up to 150% of SMI. CCFWF would raise eligibility over a number of years and CCDBG 2022 would allow it at any time so long as those under the 85% marker would still retain the first opportunity to receive eligible services.

BBB

The Senate BBB version would extend eligibility to 250% SMI, with a similar focus on prioritization based on income.

The varying legislative proposals also add various definitions to expand on eligible “working” parents for example with BBB including those taking family and medical leave, and to serve youth residing with parents over 65 years in age.

School-Age Eligibility:  Current CCDBG Law supports students from birth to age 13, as well as older students with special needs.

CCFWF

CCFWF and CCDBG 2022 would continue to include school-age children up to age 13 (and in certain cases older) and would also more explicitly define “child care” such that “before- and after-school and summer school for school-age children” is stated in the legislative text. The

CCDBG 2022

CCFWF and CCDBG 2022 would continue to include school-age children up to age 13 (and in certain cases older) and would also more explicitly define “child care” such that “before- and after-school and summer school for school-age children” is stated in the legislative text. The

BBB

The BBB proposal would extend only to children from 0-5 although states opting in to the entitlement would be required to use no less than 90% of CCDBG funds for school-age children.

Affordability: After the 2014 CCDBG act, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule clarifying sections of the law and establishing “seven percent of family income as a benchmark for affordable child care.” Each proposal recognizes the current costs of child care are untenable for low income families and explicitly sets a 7% goal for affordability.

CCFWF

The CCFWF Act sets a graduated scale such that families at 75% of the state’s median income (SMI) would have no co-pay increasing such that families up 150% of SMI would be capped at 7%. The CCDBG 2022 bill has the same language. Families would not pay more than the financial assistance provided plus their eligible co-payment.

CCDBG 2022

The CCDBG 2022 bill has the same language as the CCFWF and sets a graduated scale such that families at 75% of the state’s median income (SMI) would have no co-pay increasing such that families up 150% of SMI would be capped at 7%.

BBB

Build Back Better sets a 7% cap but again, only for the Birth to Five population mentioned in the legislation. School-age costs for before school, afterschool and summer would not be included. Any increases in school-age affordability under BBB would come from the increased allocations to school-age through the CCDBG system for the states opting in to the 0-5 entitlement. But parents with children age 0-5 that have their incomes capped under BBB, might end up paying more than 7% because of the costs for their school-age children.

Program Costs Models: The 2014 CCDBG law required states to undertake a market rate survey (MRS) or alternative measure to determine program reimbursement rates and encouraged (need to find where in guidance) reimbursement at the 75% level. However, there has since been recognition that the MRS survey only reflects what parents in an area are able to pay and not what programs need to operate quality services with well-trained and well-retained staff. All three proposals move away from an MRS to a cost estimation model. Cost estimation models also take into account variations in cost based on regionality, the population served, hours of service, and quality.

CCFWF

The CCFWF act would require that the cost estimation model ensure wages for child care providers “are comparable to elementary educators with similar credential and experience in the state; and at a minimum provide a living wage for all staff child care providers.” (Would this be capped)

CCDBG 2022

The CCDBG 2022 would require that the model “reflect the costs of service delivery including fixed costs, operating expenses, staff salaries and benefits necessary to recruit train and retain qualified staff” and the model be reviewed every two years and adjusted for inflation in the intervening year. Providers would not be permitted to charge more than the amount of the state’s assistance and the families co-payment. Currently families can make up the difference for more expensive providers out of pocket.

BBB

BBB hews most closely to the CCFWF requirements. It also requires a cost estimation model or cost study which accounts for fixed costs, differentiated pay based on geography, quality, provider type and populations served, accounts for a living wage and has equivalent wages to educators with similar credentials and experience levels, while adjusting annually for cost of living increases.

Quality Investments: Current CCDBG law requires a minimum 9% set aside for quality activities and an additional 3% quality set aside for infants and toddlers. Prior to the 2014 reauthorization there were quality dollars dedicated specifically to school-age programs. Afterwards, states had to dedicate an increasing portion of their state funds to quality but while school age was still an option, the law had no requirement for a portion of quality dollars to go to school age investments.

CCFWF

CCFWF would make major quality investments the first two years of the program, requiring 50% of the federal allotment for the development of quality systems and programs. This investment will help support statewide needs assessments and quality systems development. It could include supporting new programs to enter the system and to meet the health, safety and licensure requirements, including efforts to renovate building and spaces to comply, as well as a broad number of other uses from training and professional development, to supporting underserved populations, and supporting local and regional organizations toward child care resource and referral systems. After the initial two years, the quality set-aside investment would shift to 10% and switch to a cap rather than a floor. The legislation also emphasizes that the quality set aside should be “for all age groups of children.” Currently, all age groups are eligible, but a number of states direct an overwhelming majority to the 0-5 age groups, even as nationally over 44% of those served are school-age. In CCFWF, the quality section includes a list of allowable other activities, including a section (k) specific to improving the supply and quality of school-age care, which might involve standards, professional development, and consumer education.

CCDBG 2022

CCDBG 2022 would make significantly fewer changes, maintaining the 9% minimum set aside with a strong focus on quality through credentials, degrees, accreditation and apprenticeship. The section also mentions professional development opportunities such as age-appropriate strategies to promote the “social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of children” (including special populations); behavior management that promotes social and emotional development and reduces expulsions, and culturally and linguistically engaging families.

BBB

BBB requires the state tor reserve between 5 and up to a cap of 10% of the federal investment in each year on quality activities, including technical assistance. It is uncertain if the 3% infant and toddler set aside would be kept in CCDBG for states that would opt in.

Quality Systems: CCDBG in the 2014 reauthorization did not require states to have formal quality systems. It did expect ever increasing progress toward greater quality which in the final rule meant, “an annual report on quality activities including measures created by the  Lead Agency evaluate progress on quality improvement” and the “Lead Agencies to report data on their progress on those measures.” Quality funds were allowable for QRIS systems. The Quality Compendium reported that as of 2021, 41 states had at least one quality improvement system. Not all of those systems have been designed to include or support school-age program. State programs also have had the option of quality systems being designed as voluntary, mandatory or one or the other depending on the age, setting, licensing status etc.

CCFWF

CCFWF moves from states having the option to implement Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) to requiring all states to have a “tiered and transparent” system for measuring quality within 3 years of the law’s passage. The language corresponds to movement in the field to focus quality not so much on rating but on continuous improvement. The system is required to be connected with evidence based standards, include different payment rates for various tiers, and report on the number of providers in each tier as well as the population of those served by those programs. The system is expected to be designed with stakeholder engagement and be appropriate to the age and setting of those served to provide high levels of quality across provider types and age groups.

CCDBG 2022

The law references that cost estimation models should have a component based on “the quality of the child care provider as determined by the state”. The bill mentions quality investment activities such as supporting and assessing the quality of child care providers appropriate to different types of providers and different age groups served.

BBB

BBB would require that all eligible providers participate in the state’s system for measuring quality. BBB would also require appropriate licensing standards for every entity receiving funds that become applicable 2.5 years after first receiving funding. BBB establishes state must have a tiered system of quality, and dedicate sufficient resources to it, to where all children have access to programs operating in the highest tiers within 6 years of the law’s enactment.

 

Funding Mechanism: While CCDBG is a program subject to annual appropriations in the discretionary budget, the overall CCDF fund does include a mandatory spending component. However the CCDBG mandatory piece and matching  is significantly less than the discretionary contribution. For example in 2021, CCDBG discretionary funding was about $5.4 billion while federal mandatory and matching was $2.7 billion.

CCFWF

The proposal Sec. 658J breaks payments into two parts, one that would apply the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) (an accounting measure adjusting for the amount of low income residents in a state) for children age 3 and older to the amount spent each quarter for the federal investment. And the other, for infants and toddlers (under age 3) the federal government would commit to 90% f the total expenditures on that age group in that quarter. The federal government would also cover 50% of overall administrative expenditures.

CCDBG 2022

Funding mechanism would be the same as current law, based on an authorized amount recommending annual appropriations.

BBB

The Build Back Better proposal would move all the funds for the 0-5 program into a mandatory entitlement program run through the Department of Health and Human Services. This would remove the need for annual discretionary appropriations with the first 3 years (FY 2022-2024) at set funding levels and the final three fiscal years (FY 2025-FY 2027) being given “such sums as may be necessary” with the goal of serving every child/family deemed eligible under state policies. The federal money however would be combined with a state contribution called a “cost share model” including in the areas of direct services, administration and quality investment. For direct services, the federal government would contribute 95.440 percent of the state’s estimated expenditures for eligible children and the state would provide the rest. For administration, the federal contribution would be 53% of state’s expenditures. And, its also important to note that while the BBB child care portion would be moved to mandatory funds, the 5-13 year old population would still be served under the traditional CCDBG model subject mostly to the annual discretionary appropriations process.

Funding Amounts:

CCFWF

CCFWF would have authorized $20 million in discretionary funds for the program in its first year, $30M in its second, $40 Million in the third and such sums as might be required afterward (see the funding mechanism above).

CCDBG 2022

The CCDBG 2022 proposal includes an authorized amount equal to the current CCDBG appropriated level stating "$6,165,330,000 for fiscal year 2022, and such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2026."

BBB[1]

Under the House version, the first three years funding would be $24 billion, $34 billion and $42 billion with requirements to spend 50% on direct services, 25% on quality activities, and 25% on a choice of direct services, quality, supply or administration. Afterwards, the federal government cost sharing would cover 90% of child care assistance costs and 50% of admin costs. Quality and supply costs (5-10% of all costs) would be covered at the FMAP rate.

The Revised Build Back Better (R-BBB) Child Care proposal is in some ways a combination of many of the above plans. First, it would keep CCDBG mainly in tact but rather than keep funidng levels the same, would add an additional $12 billion each year for 6 years (tripling the current amount from $6B to $18B annually). Within that increase, it would establish a set aside of funds (about $3 billion each of the 6 years) specifically for staff pay and other infrastructure components. Then, it would also provide an additional $50-$100 B for a pilot opportunity that would enact the major accessibility and affordability provisions of BBB. These include allowing states to establish eligibility up to 250% SMI, and a 7% cap on family child care expenditures for children 0-5, which will be operated as a cost share with the federal government covering 90% of program expenditures. 

Republican Senators Richard Burr (NC) and Susan Collins (ME) along with other Republican Senators also sent a letter in May 2022, with a goal to double CCDBG investments over 5 years, stating "“Of the many funding priorities before your subcommittee, there are few as crucial to America’s working families as child care assistance provided through CCDBG,”