Frequently Asked Questions about the Proposed Child Care Rule

Q: What is the Child Care and Development Fund?

A: CCDF is a $5 billion federal program administered by states, territories and tribes. CCDF provides financial assistance to low-income families to access child care so they can work or attend a job training or educational program. CCDF also provides funding to improve the quality of child care and increase the availability of child care for all families, including those who receive no direct assistance through CCDF. 

Q:  Why does this rule only affect child care providers who accept funding from the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)?  Shouldn’t “all” child care providers need background checks, CPR training, etc?

A: The federal government does not directly regulate child care providers. As a condition of receiving CCDF funds, we can require states to establish certain health and safety standards for fund recipients. However, this proposed regulation would benefit “all” of the children at the 500,000 providers who accept CCDF funds, not just the CCDF children themselves.

Q: Why should the federal government tell states how to manage their child care programs?

A: Because the federal government provides $5 billion in child care funds, and there needs to be accountability for how those funds are used.

Q: How many children are currently being served by CCDF?

A: 1.6 million. Again, the number of children who will benefit from the proposed rule is much higher, because most providers who accept children on CCDF also accept non-CCDF children. All the kids at these providers will benefit.

Q: Is this an unfunded mandate?

A: No. In addition to helping low-income working families access child care, every year states use a portion of CCDF funding (approximately $1 billion) to improve the quality of child care. States can use this money to help providers comply with the proposed regulation.

Q: Will home-based or faith-based providers be affected?

A: This regulation is for all child care providers who accept CCDF funds, whether they are faith-based, home-based, center-based, or anything else, unless a state chooses to exempt relatives or care provided in the child’s home from certain requirements. Eleven states currently choose to exempt faith-based providers from child care licensing, and this regulation does not force any state to change this policy. However, if they accept CCDF funds, they will need to meet basic health and safety standards.

Q: What’s your authority to do this without a reauthorization?

The authority is in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act. The statute clearly states that states should take measures to ensure the health and safety of children. Measures taken, however, have been uneven and in many cases inadequate. We needed to apply minimum standards that parents assume are already being used, such as background checks.

Q: How does this proposed rule fit with President Obama’s Early Learning proposals?

A: The announcement of this proposed rule will be a key component of the President’s Plan for Early Education for All Americans, particularly the sections on “Growing the Supply of Effective Early Learning Opportunities for Young Children” and “Supporting our Federal Child Care System”. Part of the administration’s overall plan has involved improving quality and accountability in the core programs while simultaneously expanding and putting forward new ideas like Preschool for All. We’ve already made important reforms in the Head Start program, and now we’re improving accountability in child care.