Recently, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) released The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014: Uneven State Implementation of Key Policies report. The report tracks and analyzes the extent to which states made policy changes based on four key areas addressed by the CCDBG reauthorization law. Those four key indicators of a state’s progress are:
- Additional staff hired to implement the law’s new licensing and monitoring requirements
- Length of the eligibility period during which families can continue to receive child care assistance without having to recertify
- Payment to child care providers for days when children receiving child care assistance are absent
- Differential (higher) payments rates for special needs care, care during nontraditional hours and other specialized care
Those four indicators were selected because they reflected the range of objectives in the law related to improving the health and safety of child care, the supply and quality of child care, and families’ access to child care assistance. Let’s take a closer look at the number of states that made policy changes between the time the law was enacted and the middle of 2017 under each indicator.
New licensing child care staff
New requirement: Licensed providers must receive at least one inspection prior to licensing to ensure compliance with health, safety, and fire standards. License-exempt providers must receive an annual inspection for compliance with health, safety, and fire standards.
States’ progress: 21 states hired additional licensing staff that will help comply with the inspection requirements. The remaining 29 states had not hired additional licensing staff.
Eligibility period and interim reporting for child care assistance
New requirement: States must allow families to remain eligible for child care assistance for a minimum of 12 months, regardless of changes in parent employment or training programs as long as the household income remains under 85 percent state median income.
States’ progress: 19 states expanded to a 12-month continuous eligibility period for assistance for some or all families.
Payment for days when children are absent from child care
New requirement: States adopt payment practices for child care providers serving children who receive child care assistance that reflect generally accepted payment practices for providers in their state or service area that includes children who do not receive child care assistance.
States’ progress: Seven states increased the number of days for which they will pay child care providers when a child receiving child care assistance is absent from care.
Differential payment rates for specialized care
New requirement: Law requires states to describe in their state plans how they will implement strategies to increase the supply and quality of child care for children in underserved areas, children with disabilities and children who receive care during nontraditional hours.
States’ progress: Five states have adopted new differential rates, increased existing differential rates, or expanded the availability of differential rates for special needs care and non-traditional hours care.
The report shows that while many states have taken steps to meet specific requirements of the law, states still need to take further actions to be in full compliance with the new requirements. It also emphasizes the importance of increased federal funding to help states adequately implement new requirements.
The report’s author concludes, “States have taken notable steps forward in implementing the Child Care Development Block Grant of 2014. Yet further progress is needed for states to not only implement the specific, individual requirements of the law but to also fulfill its overall goal of expanding families’ access to stable, affordable, high-quality child care that meets their needs.”
To see if your state is making changes, view the full report.