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To deliver on the science of early learning and advance our current and future workforce, child care must be both affordable and high-quality—and families must have equitable access to it across all states and settings. To support these shared goals, the federal government has developed and strengthened bipartisan programs and strategies, with the support and advocacy of NAEYC, along with our Affiliates, members, and partners. One of those programs is the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Our nation has also invested in Head Start, as well as federal and state tax strategies, to help some families afford child care and address quality.
In addition, some members of Congress have introduced and supported the Child Care for Working Families act, which NAEYC has endorsed, because it builds on CCDBG to offer a comprehensive federal investment paired with state partnerships to dramatically expand access, address affordability, increase quality, and invest in early childhood education professionals.
- What does CCDBG do?
- How does CCDBG work?
- How does CCDBG support children and families?
- How does CCDBG support early childhood educators?
- How can you support CCDBG?
- Highlighted partner resources
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) helps low-income families access child care by providing states with funding to address affordability and improve quality. The program, first created in 1990, was authorized under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 and is administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services through the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families. It was reauthorized in 2014, with changes to help it achieve the following goals:
- Protecting the health and safety of children in care through more consistent standards and monitoring of those standards
- Allowing families to more easily access child care assistance that supports stable and continuous child care, and that can be coordinated with other programs
- Improving the quality of care, by increasing the quality set-aside, increasing support for child care providers, and targeting initiatives to help priority populations.
View NAEYC’s summary, written with CLASP and the EducationCounsel, about how states can spend $10 billion in new child care relief funding for CCDBG. Want to go back to the beginning? Here are NAEYC's recommendations submitted during the 2014 CCDBG reauthorization and rulemaking processes, and the 2023 rulemaking process (plus joint comments). Many of our recommendations—reflecting the strengths and needs of our members and partners across the country—were incorporated into law!
Every three years, states have to write a plan, which is approved by the Administration for Children and Families, detailing how they will achieve the law’s goals and spend the funding that Congress allocates to implement CCDBG. These plans are public and educators and families can and should engage with their appropriate state department or agency when plans are being developed and updated. All states have requirements they must meet in terms of health and safety regulations, eligibility requirements for families, training and professional development for early childhood educators, licensing and monitoring for programs, and opportunities for quality improvement across the system—but states also have significant flexibility around the implementation of these requirements as they distribute the funds throughout their communities. NAEYC encourages states to use flexibilities to increase the implementation and equitable utilization of contracts and grants to increase program stability and support the ECE workforce. NAEYC also encourages states not to look to deregulation as a strategy for supply-building. The truth is that deregulation won't solve child care, but it will decrease safety, quality, and supply. (If you're an advocate, here is another resource with options and advocacy actions to pursue instead and a resource specifically on providing child care for child care providers - plus slides and a webinar recording!)
CCDBG helps eligible low-income families with children ages birth through 12 gain access to the child care and before- and after-school settings of their choice, including center-based, home-based, and faith-based settings, where their children can learn, play, and grow while parents work or go to school. When families participate in their state’s child care assistance program, they attain peace of mind knowing that their child care and after-school providers are obligated to meet basic health, safety, and professional development requirements established by federal, state, and/or tribal law. Families and children also benefit from elements in the program that support stability, preventing children from cycling in and out of care when they most need opportunities to build strong and consistent relationships. The law requires states to provide families with access to information about child development, and about specific child care providers, so families can make better informed choices that benefit their lives and those of their children.
Early childhood educators who choose to serve families receiving assistance from the state can rely on timely and consistent payments to support the enrollment of children from low-income families. Whether or not individuals caring for and educating young children participate in CCDBG, all educators benefit from federal and state funding that provides a foundation for child care safety and quality, while building the supply of providers.
States are required to provide an explanation for how they will support the early childhood workforce in their state plans, and to set aside funds for investments in quality. Many states use these funds for professional development systems, quality rating and improvement systems, resource and referral services, scholarship and compensation initiatives, and many other activities.
Despite its critical contributions to ensuring positive outcomes for our children, our families, and the economic future of our country, CCDBG is dramatically underfunded. Most families can’t access affordable, high-quality child care and early learning, and most early childhood educators remain undervalued and underpaid. We urge you to:
- Sign up for NAEYC’s America for Early Ed and Children’s Champions email alerts and updates to help children, families, and educators succeed!
- Call your federal and state elected officials and tell them you support increased public investments and policies supporting high-quality child care and early childhood education—and you want them to support those investments and policies as well.
- Talk to your friends and family about children’s brain development and the importance of having skilled, knowledgeable, and fairly compensated educators in child care.
- Check out NAEYC’s recommendations for what states can do as they implement CCDBG, and join us in advocating for increasing quality, supporting early childhood educators, and providing linguistically and culturally appropriate outreach and engagement. Remind your state administrators to use their quality set-aside dollars to support accreditation!
- Read your state’s child care plan (effective through September 30, 2018) so you can hold your state accountable—and be sure to participate in hearings and meetings when the next plan is being developed!
- Watch a recording of the webinar presentation, "Child Care and Development Block Grant: Where Are We Now?," from May 3, 2018. The powerpoint slides from the presentation are also available for download here.
- Early Childhood Workforce Index, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment
- CCDBG Implementation Guide for States, National Women’s Law Center & CLASP
- CCDBG Implementation Station, Child Care Aware of America
- CCDBG and Racial Equity: Opportunities in the CCDBG Reauthorization to Support Racial Equity in State Child Care and Early Learning Systems, National Black Child Development Institute and CLASP