Extended State Plan Timeline Allows States to Create Their Best Child Care Subsidy Systems
By Christine Johnson-Staub and Hannah Matthews
The federal Office of Child Care recently extended the submission deadline from July 2015 to March 2016 for Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) State Plans for FY 2016-2018. This is the submission in which states will be expected to outline their implementation plans for the major changes in policy included in the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization passed last fall. The new law requires states to make significant changes in access and continuity to child care assistance, child health and safety, and program quality.
This extension should be seen as welcome news—not only to state administrators who were busily working to submit State Plans in a very short period of time, but also to all who are committed to a successful CCDBG Reauthorization.
The CCDBG Reauthorization is challenging in many respects, particularly the significant resources needed to meet new requirements. The Reauthorization is also an important opportunity to consider large-scale changes to not only comply with CCDBG Reauthorization requirements, but to design a child care system that meets the needs of children and families in the state. Taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by CCDBG Reauthorization requires sufficient planning time.
During this time, states should:
- Develop and refine their vision for an effective child care system. To seize the Reauthorization opportunity, it will be essential for states to take the time to articulate a vision and goals they hope to achieve through the Reauthorization. States can use existing state-level data, federal data, and stakeholder input to inform that vision and determine short- and long-term priorities.
- Assess current state child care policies and practices. While the Reauthorization included new federal requirements, many subsidy eligibility, redetermination, and payment policies and practices are decided at the state level. Assessing those policies to better understand where a state’s current system supports its goals and where it falls short is a critical step. Reviewing and taking early steps to simplify those policies and practices can improve the stability and effectiveness of the state’s child care program.
- Consult and assemble key state stakeholders. Hearing from individuals with a variety of perspectives and areas of expertise will be key, and will ultimately lead to smoother implementation. States should solicit as many stakeholder perspectives as possible including from parents, providers, advocates, case workers, and others. Ideally any group taking the lead on Reauthorization in the state should include perspectives of those both inside and outside of the state administering agency that will implement the resulting policy changes.
CLASP is working with the National Women’s Law Center to produce a comprehensive guide to CCDBG Reauthorization, to be released shortly. The guide will offer thorough analysis of opportunities and challenges presented by the law. We look forward to continuing to convene and participate in conversations among policymakers and advocates in states to use this extended time period most effectively and ensure that state CCDBG implementation plans reflect the best thinking on how to meet the needs of children and families.
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