CHILD CARE AND DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT ACT OF 2014
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the motion to pass S. 1086, as amended. This bill represents a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant, or CCDBG, which is the largest funding source for child care programs. It has been almost 20 years since this CCDBG was reauthorized, and working families and young children should not have to wait any longer.
This block grant provides Federal resources to States to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. This program supports self-sufficiency and promotes workforce stability.
Just as important, this funding offers children vital early learning experiences that set them on a path toward success in school, in the workforce, and the rest of their lives. However, the current law, besides being outdated, has some limitations in ensuring low-income children access to this important program.
For example, the law currently has very few specific requirements on the quality of child care, and States have significant latitude to set quality standards. This results in a great deal of low-quality child care being funded. Recent research has found that about only one-third of child care programs funded by the block grant is actually of good quality.
Access is another concern. Only one in six children eligible for the program is actually enrolled.
This reauthorization seeks to address these problems by improving child care access, making critical new investments, and helping to ensure that children are safe and receive quality care.
For example, this bill increases the number of funds that States must spend on activities to improve the quality of child care, including care for infants and toddlers. It also requires States to conduct a statewide assessment of their needs for quality improvement and to align their quality initiatives with the results of that assessment.
The bill provides States with nearly a dozen proven initiatives that they can deploy to improve quality, ranging from training and professional development to quality rating systems and health and nutrition policies.
The bill also adds State requirements on training and professional development for child care providers, for child-to-staff ratios, annual inspections for providers that receive Federal assistance, coordination with other federally funded early childhood programs, the development and maintenance of early learning and development guidelines, and background checks to keep violent and sexual offenders away from our Nation's children.
This bill expands the requirements for health and safety, and consumer education, including funding for a toll free hotline and a Web site to report suspected child abuse or safety violations.
This legislation also improves access to care by expanding the eligibility of participating families to at least a year, regardless of changes in their income or work schedules or training or educational status. It prioritizes services for families with the lowest incomes. It eases enrollment requirements for homeless children. It helps families connect with quality programs and reduces expulsions from early childhood learning programs by training providers about positive behavior supports and interventions with young children. Finally, it enhances the transparency of the cost of care.
This important legislative update to the CCDBG is long overdue. Improvements made by this legislation are critical for millions of children and their families, and for the future of our Nation.