Letter to Mayors re: CCDF COVID-19 Resources
The Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Child Care (OCC) in the Department of Health and Human Services recognizes that cities all over the country are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on their communities, including the effect on child care programs that play such a critical role in providing child care services for essential workers and those trying hold onto their businesses during this unprecedented time. As the economy begins to reopen, and the need for child care continues to evolve, we are sharing some child care background and resources that may be helpful to you at the local level.
OCC supports low-income working families by improving access to early care and afterschool programs. OCC administers the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)—a block grant to state, territory, and tribal governments that:
- Provides assistance for children and their families with paying for child care that will fit their needs and that will prepare children to succeed in school;
- Improves the quality of care to promote children’s healthy development and learning by supporting child care licensing, quality improvement systems to help programs meet higher standards, and training and education for child care workers.
The CCDF program is a valuable resource that can play an important role in COVID-19 response efforts by continuing to provide funding to state, territory, and tribal governments as they adjust to support the evolving needs of children and their families.
OCC has been working closely with the state, territory, and tribal Lead Agencies responsible for administering their CCDF programs to provide:
- Guidance on flexibility in the CCDF program that Lead Agencies can use to tailor policies for COVID-19 response;
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to COVID-191, including continued payments to providers, family eligibility policies, and health and safety for child care programs that remain open during the pandemic.
- Assistance available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)2, which provided $3.5 billion to State, Territory, and Tribal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Lead Agencies to support children, families, and child care businesses.
- Childcare.gov Visit disclaimer page 3, which includes direct links to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) information provided by each state and territory Visit disclaimer page 4 to help families and child care providers stay informed during this fast-moving and developing situation.
- Other relevant resources including how to address and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, how to maintain health and safety in child care programs, and how essential workers can find child care.
While the CCDF program is administered by Lead Agencies at the state, territory, tribal, or county level, the CCDF program has a direct impact on children, families, and child care programs in your city. As CCDF Lead Agencies determine how to best utilize resources to meet new challenges presented by COVID-19, we encourage you to be in touch with your State’s Lead Agency to discuss how policies and recent funding will impact local governments and how these changes affect your children and families. Below are links to Lead Agency contacts:
To help you navigate CCDF policies as they relate to COVID-19, below is an overview of some of the guidance OCC is providing on our website. Please visit the Office of Child Care COVID-19 Resources page7 for all resources. This page will be updated on a rolling basis as additional information becomes available.
We urge you to work closely with other government and business leaders who are making decisions about reopening to make sure your child care capacity is in sync with the needs and preferences of families as they return to work. Child care is an essential part of the response and recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic. OCC is committed to supporting CCDF Lead Agencies as they leverage resources to best serve the needs of your children and families. Thank you for all that you do to lead your city during this challenging time. I hope that these resources will be helpful to you as we work together to protect the health and safety of the American people.
Office of Child Care
OVERVIEW OF CCDF COVID-19 RESOURCES
CCDF Lead Agency Policy Flexibility
Lead Agencies have broad flexibility to operate the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program and have a number of flexibilities, within federal statute and regulation, to adapt policies in order to maintain continuity of services for families affected by this Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Lead Agencies also have emergency preparedness plans as required by CCDF regulations that contain guidelines for the continuation of child care subsidies and child care services in disasters and emergencies.
Options available to State, Territory, and Tribal Lead Agencies include:
- Lead Agencies have the flexibility to change eligibility or priority criteria to permit uninterrupted child care and can include essential workers;
- Lead Agencies have the flexibility to define income and set the income threshold for purposes of CCDF eligibility;
- Lead Agencies have the option to waive family co-payment requirements for families that meet criteria established by the Lead Agency—which may include, for example, families impacted by federal or state declared emergency situations; and
- Lead Agencies may use quality dollars to provide immediate assistance to impacted families, including families that do not participate in CCDF.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act” (Public Law 116-136) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. This Act provided $3.5 billion to State, Territory, and Tribal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Lead Agencies to support children, families, and child care businesses.
Some key takeaways regarding CARES Act funds for Child Care:
- May be used to provide continued payments and assistance to child care providers in the case of decreased enrollment or closures related to coronavirus, and to assure they are able to remain open or reopen;
- Can be used to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus, without regard to the income eligibility requirements; and
- Shall be available to eligible CCDF providers (e.g., meeting health and safety requirements, or eligible relative providers), even if such providers were not receiving CCDF assistance prior to the public health emergency as a result of the coronavirus, for the purposes of cleaning and sanitation, and other activities necessary to maintain or resume the operation of programs.
Childcare.gov: State and Territory Information
Childcare.gov Visit disclaimer page 11 is our child care locator site. It provides direct links to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) information provided by each state and territory Visit disclaimer page 12, including their open-closed status, to help families and child care providers stay informed during this fast-moving and developing situation.
Family and Provider Guidance & Resources
Information that may be of particular assistance to children, families, and child care providers:
- State-Level Information for Essential Workers Seeking Child Care13: Essential workers may be faced with the need to find a safe child care arrangement while continuing to work. This document provides resources that may assist individuals in identifying child care options during this unprecedented time. This information is also on ChildCare.gov.
- Guidance on Operation of Child Care Programs: OCC recommends Lead Agencies to follow guidance established by local and state (or tribal) public health authorities regarding the closure, re-opening, or operation of child care facilities. In addition, Lead Agencies should consult the updated CDC guidance on child care and COVID 19: