The program purpose and authorization: A growing number of mothers with children are in the workforce and require child care and after-school care. The cost of child care is a significant part of a family's budget. One out of three families with young children earns less than $25,000 a year. Yet, full-day child care can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 and up per year. The availability of subsidies for low-income and working families for child care is inadequate to ensure that children have access to high-quality child care.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) helps low-income families, families receiving public assistance and those families transitioning from public assistance in obtaining child care. The program, created in 1990, is authorized under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193). According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the current funding level for the Child Care and Development Block Grant provides assistance to only one out of 10 eligible children.
General Questions and Answers
Who administers the funds at the federal level?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers the program.
How do states use these funds?
There are relatively few requirements imposed on the states. States must:
- Establish a lead agency in the state to administer the program;
- Provide state funds to match a portion of the federal funds;
- Use the funds to help families with incomes below 85 percent of the state median income level;
- Establish baseline health and safety protections for those child care programs receiving these funds if the state does not require the programs to be licensed. States can exempt certain relatives from these requirements;
- Establish reimbursement rates for child care;
- Use 4 percent of the funds on improving the quality of child care; and
- Establish reimbursement rates for child care so that children that receive CCDBG assistance have access to child care that is comparable to children who do not receive such assistance.
How do families receive the subsidies?
Services are provided through contracts with providers or certificates to parents. Parents can select any legally operating child care provider that meets basic health and safety requirements established by the State or tribe.
What kinds of child care programs are eligible?
Parents may select any legally operating child care provider. A provider must meet state health and safety requirements that address prevention and control of infectious diseases; building and facility safety; and minimum health and safety training.
What about quality?
Four percent of the grant funds must be used to improve the quality of child care. State use the quality funds for technical assistance and training, resource and referral services, grants and loans to providers for start-up costs, increasing monitoring staff, compensation projects, and other activities.
Can the subsidies be used for school-age child care?
Yes, a portion of funds are set aside for school-age child care.
How do I have input on how my state uses the funds?
States and tribes must submit plans every two years. They must conduct public hearings regarding their plans and invite public comment.
For more information on CCDBG, contact:
- The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers the program.
- State Child Care Administrators can be located at the web site of the National Child Care Information Center.