On December 8, 2017, the Office of Child Care released a Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Plan Pre-Print Draft for 2019-2021 for 30 days of public comment. The plan is the foundation that states must use to receive their allocation of the $5 billion in federal Child Care and Development Block Grant funding. The plan draft incorporates the 2016 Final CCDF Rule and the full implementation of the updated CCDF legislation reauthorized in 2014. The draft pre-print also includes a process for a one to two year extension for states to implement new background check requirements under the law.
Across the country, school-age children account for 35 percent of CCDF subsidies. State administration is often housed in an administrative office connected with early care, where personnel may not naturally see where needs for school-age programs diverge. Nevertheless, a provider for a 12-year-old child requires a different set of training and requirements than a provider of infant care. It is therefore essential that school-age providers and organizations take a proactive role to be an essential part in the design and implementation of these state plans.
In response to the draft, the Afterschool Alliance submitted comments to the department emphasizing the value of explicitly including school-age care organizations in the formulation of state child care policies and ensuring that professional development training, standards, and technical assistance also be appropriate to the age of child served and the setting (including programs at school sites), after consultation with partners and the field.
As the letter states, “State policies that are conscious of the need to consider different ages in their plan and implementation help to build quality access for more youth. Conversely, policies that overlook the distinct needs of school-age care can unintentionally incentivize school age providers to opt out of the CCDF funding at a large loss to families and youth in need of services.”
After the pre-print draft, the HHS Office of Child Care will review the submitted comments, revise the pre-print accordingly and send final version to states by late spring. At that point school-age providers, advocates, and networks will have the opportunity to provide feedback and input on the development of their state’s plan. Statewide Afterschool Networks are a required coordination partner in components of the plan. By this spring, after the draft has been finalized, the Afterschool Alliance will provide a summary for advocates in the field of places in the plan where strong school-age language can be offered to ensure a state plan that provides relevant, accessible, high-quality programs for all children using the grants or vouchers across ages and settings.
School-age advocates now can continue to build relationships with their state office in charge of the CCDF administration and prepare for productive conversations in the spring to devise and finalize the 2019-2021 plans for their state.