In Focus: Child Care Subsidies

Jul 24, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Child Care Assistance: An Essential Work Support Program for Families

By Hannah Matthews and Christina Walker

Quality child care enables parents to work or go to school while also providing young children with the early childhood education experiences needed for healthy development. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal program that provides funding for child care assistance for low-income working parents. Child care assistance is a vital public investment that increases the sustainability of employment for low-income parents and provides stability for parents struggling to gain economic security. It also allows many parents to access higher-quality care than they could otherwise afford.

In spite of several years of post-recession economic recovery, the percentage of Americans living in poverty remains high. The majority of parents with young children work. More than 30 percent of poor children and half of low-income children – living in families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level –lived in families with at least one worker employed full-time, year-round.  

For parents working in low-wage jobs, paying the high costs of child care is a struggle. The average annual costs of center-based care for a 4-year-old ranges from $4,312 in Mississippi to $12,355 in New York.  Nationwide, families living below poverty who pay for child care spend approximately 30 percent of their income, which is significantly higher when compared to families not in poverty who pay 8 percent of their income.

A new CLASP brief highlights why child care assistance is an essential work support program for low-income working families and provides evidence that these subsidies are associated with sustainable employment for parents and improved child outcomes. It makes the case for why additional investments at the federal and state level are critical.

Read the full brief here>>

Jun 11, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Senate Subcommittee Increases Federal Early Education Investments

By Hannah Matthews

Yesterday, as part of the 2015 appropriations process, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies marked up a bill that includes more than $348 million in new funding for child care and early education programs. The Subcommittee approved:

  • A $145 million increase for Head Start, including $80 million for a cost-of-living increase for existing grantees and $65 million for Early Head Start, including funding for Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership grants.
  • A $100 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to help states improve quality while maintaining access for low-income families.
  • A $100 million increase for Preschool Development Grants to help states initiate or implement high-quality preschool programs for low-income families. 
  • And a $3.3 million increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C for services for infants and toddlers and their families.

This significant investment in the context of a very tight budget shows once again that many federal policymakers understand the critical importance of investing in our youngest children. The full Senate Appropriations committee is expected to take up the bill later this week. The House has not yet released a companion spending bill.

Read a summary of the Subcommittee bill>>

Jun 6, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Expanding High-Quality Child Care for Babies: ACF Releases Funding Opportunity

By Hannah Matthews

Today, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) launched a historic funding opportunity to advance high-quality, comprehensive infant and toddler child care across the country. With $500 million available in Congress' FY 2014 spending bill, Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership and Early Head Start (EHS) Expansion grants will leverage EHS and child care dollars to expand access to full-day services for poor, young children. Funding will be made available within each state based on the number of young children in poverty. 

Eligible applicants may apply for funding through three opportunities:

  1. EHS-CC Partnerships. New or existing EHS grantees will partner with center-based child care or family child care homes to provide full-day, high-quality infant-toddler care that meets EHS standards.  Applicants proposing EHS-CC partnerships will receive the highest funding priority.
  2. Non-Partnership EHS Expansion. New or existing EHS grantees may expand the number of slots in traditional EHS centers or family child care homes. Funds may not be used to expand the EHS home-based model. Applicants will be expected to propose providing full-day, full-year services for a minimum of 48 weeks. Non-Partnership Expansion applicants must justify why an EHS-CC partnership is not the best approach for their community.
  3. Combination EHS Expansion and Partnerships.  New or existing grantees may expand the number of slots in EHS programs and also partner with center-based or family child care. Applicants proposing a combination of EHS expansion and EHS-CC partnership will receive priority over straight expansion models.

All grant funds, including EHS-CC Partnerships, Non-Partnership EHS Expansion, and Combination EHS Expansion and Partnerships may be used to serve children from birth to 36 months in center-based settings and children from birth to 48 months in family child care settings. All applicants must consider a birth to five continuum of high-quality early care and education in developing their proposals.  

All grantees are required to leverage existing local resources and collaborate with community organizations to provide the full array of comprehensive services to young children. EHS-CC Partnership grantees must ensure that a minimum of 25 percent of slots are filled by children who receive child care subsidies and are also EHS eligible. Applicants who propose filling at least 40 percent of their slots with children receiving subsidies will receive additional points.

Applicants who propose serving children who reside in high-poverty zip codes and federally designated Promise Zones will receive additional points.

CLASP will continue to review the funding opportunity and provide supporting information and resources. Applications for funding are due by August 20. The complete funding opportunity announcement is available here.

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