The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the most significant source of funding for providing child care assistance to working families to help ensure kids are safe so parents can work. For families with young children, child care has become the largest expense in the family budget and not having access to affordable quality child care can limit a parent’s ability to work or can leave kids in unsafe conditions. The CCDBG is on the brink of receiving final approval in Congress for the first update to the program in almost 20 years.
Twenty years ago, Forrest Gump and the Lion King were on the big screen and I was probably wearing flannel and watching My So-Called-Life or listening to Ace of Base. If all of that means nothing to you, let it suffice to say that things have changed significantly since 1994.
This is especially true when it comes to the area of early childhood care and education. Today, we know significantly more about how to keep kids safe in their early years and about the critical brain development that happens in the earliest years of life that make our interactions with caregivers so important.
The reauthorization of the CCDBG includes essential updates to the program that incorporate many of the lessons and improvements made to early care and education over the past couple of decades. The program improvements have potential benefits for children, families and providers, including:
- Ensuring that states have developed standards for things like preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and that providers receive health and safety training before providing care
- Allowing states to fund resource and referral systems to help families connect with quality child care
- Ensuring greater stability for families by allowing those who initially qualify for a subsidy to get care for at least a year
- Protecting providers by allowing states to pay providers for unforeseen child absences
The CCDBG update passed the House of Representatives and is now awaiting final approval by the Senate. We hope the Senate will take action on this important legislation soon and ensure that kids and families don’t have to wait any longer for improvements to this essential program.