History and Purposes of CCDBG and CCDF
The history of CCDBG and rules to administer the program date back to 1990. Funding was first authorized under the CCDBG Act of 1990, which was enacted under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) appropriated new entitlement child care funds under section 418 of the Social Security Act and reauthorized discretionary funding under the CCDBG Act of 1990.
PRWORA required that entitlement child care funds be transferred to a state or tribal Lead Agency for CCDBG and be administered by that agency using the provisions of the CCDBG Act. PRWORA consolidated three federal child care programs previously serving low-income families under the program formerly known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) named these combined funds CCDF.
The first regulations governing CCDBG went into effect on August 4, 1992. ACF published regulations that established the CCDF program in 1998. These rules, implementing the child care provisions of PRWORA, went into effect August 24, 1998.
The CCDBG Act was reauthorized in November 2014. The reauthorization enhanced the statutory purposes of the CCDF program to better balance the dual purposes of promoting children’s healthy development and school success, and support parents who are working or in training or education. The stated purposes of the act are as follows:
1. To allow each state maximum flexibility in developing child care programs and policies that best suit the needs of children and parents within that state;
2. To promote parental choice to empower working parents to make their own decisions regarding the child care services that best suits their family’s needs;
3. To encourage states to provide consumer education information to help parents make informed choices about child care services and to promote involvement by parents and family members in the development of their children in child care settings;
4. To assist states in delivering high-quality, coordinated early childhood care and education services to maximize parents’ options and support parents trying to achieve independence from public assistance;
5. To assist states in improving the overall quality of child care services and programs by implementing the health, safety, licensing, training, and oversight standards established in this subchapter [Subchapter II-B – Child Care and Development Block Grant (Sections 9857 – 9858r)] and in state law (including state regulations);
6. To improve child care and development of participating children; and
7. To increase the number and percentage of low-income children in high-quality child care settings.
The CCDF Program
CCDF is the primary federal funding source devoted to families with low incomes who are working or participating in education and training by helping them pay for child care and improving the quality of child care for all children. Approximately 1.4 million children younger than 13 years from approximately 857,700 low-income working families are served by CCDF each month. This support enables their parents to work and participate in education or training to improve their job prospects. In addition, CCDF funds support state and Tribal initiatives to improve the quality of child care for all children in our nation.
The CCDBG Act authorizes the CCDF program and includes authorized funding amounts for each fiscal year. The actual amount of CCDF discretionary funding provided for each fiscal year is determined through the annual appropriations process, and may be more or less than the amount indicated in the law. Therefore, while the law authorizes an increase in CCDF funding over time, Congress will determine actual funding levels for each fiscal year.
The CCDF child care program is often described as comprising three broad and overlapping areas of services:
• Child care financial assistance (subsidy)
• Health and safety
• Quality improvement activities
Subsidized child care services are available to eligible families through certificates or grants and contracts with child care providers. States provide access to information about child care financial assistance in many ways, including during enrollment for other public assistance (such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF]), online, at community and health events, through child care providers, and through child care resource and referral agencies (CCR&R).
The Child Care and Development Fund is complex, with many interrelated components. Related content is available in Provide Stable Child Care Financial Assistance to Families and Ensure Equal Access to Child Care for Low-Income Children.
Parents may select a child care provider that satisfies any applicable state or local requirements, including basic health and safety requirements. These requirements must address prevention and control of infectious diseases, including immunizations; building and physical premises safety; and minimum health and safety training (as established in the CCDBG Act and CCDF final rule). States may also require that the provider participates in the state quality rating and improvement system or other quality improvement activities, as long as the requirement does not limit the types of providers available to families. For information about child care health and safety, go to Establish Standards and Monitoring Processes to Ensure the Health and Safety of Child Care Settings.
One of the key goals of CCDF is to help more children from low-income families access higher-quality care. Lead Agencies have the flexibility to consider their goals and strategic plans for a child care quality improvement system for all families, not just those receiving assistance under CCDF. States are required to reserve and use identified percentages of their CCDF allocations for activities that are designed to improve the quality of child care services and increase parental options for, and access to, high-quality child care. For information about child care quality improvement, go to Support Continuous Quality Improvement.