Opportunities to Advocate for Equitable Child Care Policies through the State CCDF Planning Process

By Christine Johnson-Staub and Simon Workman

What are State CCDF Plans?
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Reauthorization Act of 2014 requires state lead child care agencies to submit a plan every three years that outlines their state child care policies and plans for using their Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) resources. These state plans, which serve as the state application to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) for appropriated federal CCDF dollars, also provide data on the variations in child care policies across states and offer a way for sharing information about effective policies across states.

While state CCDF plans can be amended over the three-year period, state stakeholders can use the plans’ development as an opportunity to advocate for key policy changes in areas including parent eligibility, access, and provider payment policies that can promote equitable access to quality child care.

Federal officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Child Care are reviewing the final template for the 2022-2024 CCDF plans and are expected to finalize it by April, but some states are already using the preprint draft to start their work. As part of that process, states are required to hold public hearings on their draft plans. State agencies are required to give 20-day advance notification and complete “sufficient statewide or territory-wide distribution” of the draft plan prior to those hearings. Agencies can hold hearings any time between January 2021 and the submission of the plan in July, but they should allow ample time for making changes based on public input.

This year’s state planning process offers states and stakeholders a unique opportunity to reflect on the persistent racial inequities and economic challenges in the field that have been exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lessons they have learned through the policy response to date. By authentically engaging parents, providers and other stakeholders in this conversation (as required), and using data (including disaggregated data) about the impact of the pandemic on families and the child care field, states can use their plans as important tools for turning those lessons from the field into policy. They can then use the lessons learned and newly available federal funds to extend, expand, and systematize policy changes that have benefited the field and take concrete steps to make policy changes addressing structural barriers that create racial and economic barriers for parents and providers to participate in state child care assistance programs. 

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