Child Care Assistance Policy CCDBG ActJemeila Arrington-DunnUniversity of Maryland Baltimore School of Social WorkSocial Welfare and Social PolicyApril 29, 2019Policy Brief on Child Care Assistance Policy and the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG) (S. 1086, as amended)April 2019IntroductionThe Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG) is an amendment to the 1990 and 1996 CCDBG Act under welfare reform. CCDBG authorized the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which is administered by individual states, territories, and tribes. The current CCDBG Act was established with the intent to serve as the primary federal funding source for low income families seeking work and educational advancement with an emphasis on the quality of child care provided in child care facilities.
Policy makers also included other components to their mission such as promoting family engagement through outreach and consumer education, enhancing established standards and monitoring processes to ensure the health and safety of child care settings, ensuring recruitment and retaining of qualified and effective child care workforce, supporting ongoing quality improvement, and the reassurance of grantee program integrity and accountability.
Recognition and Legitimation of the Issue: A Historical PerspectiveAccess and affordability to quality child care has been an ongoing issue in America for many years. The issue began to gain recognition in 1911 with the establishment of mother’s pensions. Mothers pensions were cash payments to widows with young children to permit them to care for their children in their own home. These programs were created as a response to the growing issue of children being placed in institutions by working mothers, specifically widows who needed to work and support their families. In 1894 over 33,500 children in New York state alone lived in institutions (Sribnick and Johnsen, 2012). These institutions included poor houses, orphanages and asylums. The first bill for mothers’ pensions would be passed in Illinois but would cross the country to reach 40 other states within the next 10 years. More women would require child care assistance during the second world war. At this time policies would begin to target not only widows but working mothers. This was due in part to the medias efforts to gain political support for the pension programs and promote the notion that Aid to Dependent Children funds went towards supporting good families.The great depression would lead to a drastic decrease in pension availability, though the mothers’ pensions program framework would be modeled during the Social Security Act’s Aid to Dependent Children program. Aid to Dependent Children or ADC (later renamed Aid to Families with Dependent Children, AFDC) was Title IV of the Social Security Act of 1935. Administration of the program was transferred from the U.S. Children’s Bureau to the Social Security Administration. The goal was to reduce the number of Americans receiving welfare and prevent the need for assistance. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands operated an AFDC program. Eligibility was determined by income and resources amount. The cost of child care has steadily increased since women joined the work force and the establishment of mother’s pensions. According to Child Care Aware of America’s: Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2018 report, child care is one of the biggest items in families’ monthly budgets. It ranks higher than the cost of housing, college tuition, transportation, and food. The cost of child care has led many families to make tough choices. Many families have considered if it is worth it for both parents to work, since one income is almost solely used to pay for child care. According to the U.S and the High Cost of Child Care: A Review of Prices and Proposed Solutions for a Broken System, the cost of child care in Maryland for an infant in the year 2018 exceeded more than 14% of two parent household annual income in Baltimore City. This has led to an increase in parents seeking unlicensed child care facilities to monitor their children. This is risky for both facilitators and parents because these facilities are not regulated under the CCDBG. This is especially true for the most vulnerable age of children between newborn and four years of age who are not eligible to participate in local head start programs or began school. Problem Causation and SolutionHistorically the issue of child care affordability and access were largely due to the increase of mothers working and unable to leave the home. The lack of quality, reasonably priced day care was and continues to be one of the most significant barriers to full equality for women in the workplace. Subsidy programs have the most impact on the parent’s ability to work and provide for their families. Women are more likely to be employed when they have consistent child care. Assistance in the form of subsidy among single mothers led to a 5% increase in the likelihood of employment (Blau and Tekin, 2007). Not only does subsidy programs assist parents with becoming employed it provides flexibility for work hours. Single mothers who reported receiving assistance with child care worked, on average, 9.4 hour more per week than mothers who did not receive assistance (Crawford, 2006). When parents have safe and affordable child care, they are more able to build a strong economic foundation for themselves and children. Their employers benefit as well in that, access to affordable quality child care increases productivity. Population at Risk The reforms made to CCDBG 2014 will benefit the more than 1.4 million children receiving child care subsidies. The act will also benefit children of families who receive no direct assistance from CCDF. Those families will benefit from firmer protocol regarding safer child care settings with better skilled teachers and staff. In addition, all parents who use child care, both state and private service regardless of income, will benefit from new health and safety protections. This entails background checks for providers and staff, and public availability of information, including the health and safety track records of providers. Policy Description and AnalysisFor states to be eligible for CCDF under CCDBG they must meet set requirements. The Act includes many protections for our most vulnerable population, children. These protections include and are not limited to low adult-child ratios, state funded first aid and CPR trainings, and comprehensive background checks. The CCDF allocated under CCDBG allows for great flexibility. States can transfer a portion of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families dollars to CCDF, or spend TANF directly for child care. A portion of CCDF must go toward the improvement of quality child care i.e. resource and referral counseling with finding child care providers or annual training for professional development of child care staff. States coordinate CCDF with Head Start, pre-k, and other early childhood programs. All states must submit inclusive plans for CCDF every three years and conduct public hearings to invite public feedback. This allows for community involvement in potential policy reform. According to the guide for Implementing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Re authorization established by the National Women’s Law Center, reauthorization did not make changes to the eligibility of children for child care assistance. Eligibility remained consistent with guidelines defined during the 1996 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program establishment. Eligible children are defined as under 13 years of age (or between ages 13 and 19 and physically and/or mentally incapable of self-care or under court supervision). Families cannot exceed 85 percent of the state median income. Children must reside with a parent or parents who work, participate in job training or seeking education or receiving, or needing to receive, protective services.Conclusions and Policy Implications Many of the safety standards parents assumed to be in place before CCDBG were not being practiced. These same parents assumed that providers underwent background checks and are recipients of regular inspections by both state and the Board of Child Care. They believed that policies and regulations were already in place that ensured their children were safe. Prior to CCDBG health and safety regulations were not unique to child care. Yet, in some states standards for child care were minimal compared with other industries such as beauty and food. Although the Act entails great strives to provide access to affordable and quality child care nationally, there is still room for improvement. CCDBG requires firmer regulation for child care providers, but not all child care providers fall under regulation. States can exempt child care providers who do not receive state subsidies from health and safety requirements. Although CCDBG allows for nationally standards for child care, states have the power to place specific regulations. This adds to the issue of inequality among standards for child care. As social workers there are many efforts, we can make to ensure the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act serves its purpose. This includes asking members of congress to ensure that the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill includes the full $5.8 billion over two years for CCDBG, partaking in written and in-person CCDF state plan outreach and comment processes and opportunities, and testify at budget hearings. .References1 Blau and Tekin’s study (2007) as cited in H. Ahn / Children and Youth Services Review 34 (2012) 3802 Crawford (2006) as cited in H. Ahn / Children and Youth Services Review 34 (2012) 3803 Fraga, L., Dobbins, D., McCready, M., & Child Care Aware of America. (2018). Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2018 Report. Child Care Aware of America. Child Care Aware of America. Retrieved from L., Dobbins, D., McCready, M., & Child Care Aware of America. (2015).: A Review of Prices and Proposed Solutions for a Broken System: 2015 Report. Child Care Aware of America. Child Care Aware of America. Retrieved from Mathews, H., Schulman, K., Vogtman, J., Staub, C., & Blank, H. (2015). Implementing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Re authorization: A Guide for States. Washington, DC: NWLC. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from 6 Scribnick, E., & Johnsen, S. (2012). The Historical Perspective. Mothers’ Pensions, 3.3, 30.