Spotlight Exclusives

Bipartisan Child Care Bill Passes Senate

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Even with the current polarization in Congress, a significant piece of domestic legislation managed to attract broad bipartisan support earlier this month. On March 13, reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) passed the Senate, garnering only two “no” votes in the entire chamber.

CCDBG helps subsidize the cost of child care for low-income families. Each month, more than 1.5 million children under the age of 13 receive funding through the program.

“When families have access to quality child care, it has dual benefits for the children and their working parents,” David Gray, senior fellow at the New America Foundation and former director of their Workforce and Family Program, explained in an interview with Spotlight.

CCDBG was signed into law in 1990. It was reauthorized and amended as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 the central legislative component of welfare reform. While the program has continued to receive funding, it has not been reauthorized since then.

This latest reauthorization wouldn’t appropriate additional funding, but would shift the terms of the grant to further emphasize accountability and quality of care.

Notable reforms include: a mandate that states receiving federal child care funding ensure that all providers undergo thorough background checks and have no relevant felony convictions, and an increase in the percentage of CCDBG funding designated for quality improvements.

“Too many child care settings are currently of inadequate quality,” said Gray, who formerly served as a legislative aide to several members of Congress. “Traditionally it۪s an issue that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.”

Gray admits that the bill is not a panacea for reforming child care services, “It won۪t do a lot for access or affordability,” he said. However, he feels “it’s as an important step in the right direction in both substance and on bipartisan process.”

Beginning the process of House consideration of the Senate passed-bill, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held their first meeting on the legislation on March 25. Spotlight will continue tracking the progress of CCDBG reauthorization as it moves forward.

Posted by Luke
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