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Overview of CCDF

On November 19, 2014, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) of 2014 was enacted into law; this bipartisan legislation made many important changes to the previous CCDBG Act. The law reauthorized the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program for the first time since 1996 and made changes to

  • protect the health and safety of children in child care,
  • promote continuity of access to subsidy for low-income families,
  • better inform parents and the general public about the child care choices available to them, and
  • improve the overall quality of early learning and afterschool programs.

Collectively, these changes reflect a new era for child care and an opportunity to improve the learning experiences of millions of children every day.[1]

The law makes many important statutory changes focused on strengthening child care in this country to better support the success of two generations. Research has demonstrated that access to stable, high-quality child care can promote school readiness and success for children, employment for parents, and economic security for families.[2] The CCDF provides resources to state and American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) grantees to support these efforts.[3]

While the reforms made by the CCDBG Act will benefit the children receiving child care subsidies, they will also benefit all children cared for alongside them who receive no direct assistance from CCDF but benefit from safer child care settings with better skilled teachers and staff. Low-income parents who receive subsidies to make child care affordable will receive more stable assistance as they work toward economic security. In addition, all parents who use child care, regardless of income, will benefit from new health and safety protections for their children, such as background checks for providers and the availability of public information about the health and safety track records of providers and the quality of services.[4]

The law will also have an impact on requirements and opportunities for professional development for individual teachers and staff working in child care settings that serve children receiving CCDF-funded child care assistance. Thousands of child care providers serving CCDF children across the country will receive monitoring and meet new health and safety standards. Finally, the law affects the state and tribal agencies that administer the CCDF program and will be implementing the requirements. The Administration for Children and Families will partner with these agencies to support implementation with guidance and technical assistance (TA), when requested.

In some cases, the CCDBG Act specified a particular date when provisions would become effective. When the law did not specify a date, new requirements became effective upon date of enactment (November 14, 2014), and states had until September 30, 2016, to implement them.

Since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last issued comprehensive child care regulations in 1998, we have learned more about the impact high-quality child care can have on young children’s development and learning. In September 2016, the Office of Child Care published a final rule based on the Act that provided additional details and clarifications on the law’s requirements. The final rule provides clarity to states on how to implement the law and administer the program in a way that best meets the needs of children, child care providers, and families.

Provisions of this final rule generally became effective on November 29, 2016, 60 days after the final rule’s publication date in the Federal Register, except for the provisions with a delayed statutory effective date. States are expected to be in full compliance by October 1, 2018, which marks the beginning of the next triennial CCDF Plan period. In the meantime, states must comply with the Act itself based on a reasonable interpretation of the law.

 


[1] Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Child Care and Development Fund final rule frequently asked questions. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/resource/ccdf-final-rule-faq

[2] Ibid.

[3] CCDF regulations define state as follows: “any of the states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, and includes tribes unless otherwise specified” [Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. § 98.2 (2016)]. For ease of reading, the term state is used inclusively throughout this resource unless otherwise specified.

[4] Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Child Care and Development Fund final rule frequently asked questions. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/resource/ccdf-final-rule-faq