On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education marked up a bill that would include major cuts to programs that are critical to women and their families. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) escaped without being cut—but it already falls short of meeting families’ needs. Moreover, the bill provides no new funding to meet the important goals of child care legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support just last November.
Resources Don’t Match Goals
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 aims to ensure the basic health and safety of children in child care, improve the quality of care, and make it easier for families to gain and retain access to child care assistance. Yet complying with the new law will involve new costs for states—for example, to meet requirements to inspect child care centers and family child care homes and ensure child care providers receive training in key areas such as first aid and CPR and emergency preparedness. But Congress did not provide guaranteed funding when it passed the law last year to help states with these costs, and now the House is failing to provide the needed funding in its annual appropriations bill.
Negative Consequences for Families
Without new funding, states will be forced to make tradeoffs that will result in harm to children and families no matter what choice they make—child care providers will be deprived of the resources they need to offer children a high-quality early learning experience, or more families will be denied the help they need to afford care. Already, there are 315,000 fewer children receiving child care assistance than in 2006, and providers that serve families receiving assistance are typically paid lower rates than the rates charged to private-paying families.
Child Care Funding: Key to Parents’ and Children’s Success
Child care assistance is often a lifeline for low-income parents. The research shows that it helps them get and keep their jobs. It can also enable parents to afford stable, high-quality care that children need in their early years to enter school ready to succeed. But unless Congress provides the funding required to fully implement the new CCDBG law, fewer and fewer families will receive assistance and more and more children will miss out on a strong start.