Office of Child Care
330 C Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20201
The Office of Child Care administers the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which supports low-income working families through financial aid for child care. CCDF also promotes children’s learning by improving the quality of early care and education and afterschool programs.
On November 19, 2014, the President signed the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 into law. This action reauthorizes the law governing CCDF for the first time since 1996 and represents an historic re-envisioning of the program. The new law makes significant advancements by defining health and safety requirements for child care providers, outlining family-friendly eligibility policies, expanding quality improvement efforts, and ensuring parents and the public have transparent information about the child care choices available to them.
Through the CCDF program, subsidized child care services are available to eligible families through vouchers or contracts with providers. Parents may select a child care provider that accepts subsidies and meets applicable State and local requirements, i.e., a child care center, family child care home, relative, friend, or neighbor. With the exception of relative providers, child care providers serving children funded by CCDF must meet basic health and safety requirements set by States, Territories, and Tribes. These requirements must address prevention and control of infectious diseases, including immunizations, building and physical premises safety, and minimum health and safety training. Under the new law, States must: ensure that these health and safety requirements address key areas (such as first aid and CPR); require that providers receive training in these areas; complete comprehensive criminal background checks; and conduct monitoring that includes annual inspections,
Federal funds go to States, Territories, the District of Columbia, and federally recognized Indian tribes, which then designate a CCDF Lead Agency within each jurisdiction. These agencies distribute subsidies to eligible families and providers in accordance with their jurisdiction’s child care system. Within federal guidelines, lead agencies have the flexibility to define income eligibility and establish other key aspects of program design. Under the new law, States must establish eligibility policies, including a period of at least 12 months before eligibility is re-determined, that promote continuity of care for children and families. CCDF funds can be used for outreach and other efforts to expand child care assistance, or supply-building efforts such as the use of grants and contracts for under-served populations and communities.
CCDF Lead Agencies use quality enhancement funds to improve child care and other services to parents. These services include child care resource and referral services and consumer education to assist parents in selecting quality child care. The new law increases the minimum amount that States are required to spend for quality activities, and includes new funding for improving the quality of care for infants and toddlers. To improve the health and safety of available child care, CCDF Lead Agencies may provide training, technical assistance, and grants and loans to providers. In addition, funds may be used for improved monitoring to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements. Many CCDF Lead Agencies are making systemic investments, such as developing quality rating and improvement, and professional development systems. These systems are designed to ensure that children and families are receiving high quality, developmentally appropriate child care within their early care and education systems. The goal is to enhance children’s readiness for school and subsequent academic success.