Build Back Better Immediately Increases Eligibility for Child Care Assistance
By Alejandra Londono Gomez
The child care provisions in the Build Back Better (BBB) Act will guarantee child care assistance for over 90 percent of working families once it is fully enacted. Under current law, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) allows families with incomes up to 85 percent of state median income (SMI) to access assistance. However, with limited resources, states often set their initial income eligibility far below that threshold. Moreover, even families that meet the income criteria are not guaranteed assistance because of under investment in the system.
The BBB Act would expand eligibility from day one, significantly increasing access for families with children under 5. At 100 percent SMI, which is the BBB Act’s FY 2022 income eligibility threshold, the maximum amount a family can earn and still receive assistance would increase by thousands of dollars. The income eligibility in the first year of the program would allow increases in maximum family incomes ranging from $9,000 in additional earnings in California to over $75,000 in New Jersey. After the first year, the income eligibility threshold continues to increase through the fourth year of the program when all families under 250 percent SMI who participate in eligible activities will be guaranteed access to care if they choose to apply.
This analysis details the current CCDBG initial annual income eligibility threshold set by policy in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and the income eligibility threshold for the first year of the BBB’s act child care program. It also shows a comparison between the two and details the increase BBB would provide.