Summary of the Access to High Quality Child Care Act
On April 11, 2002 Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) introduced the "2002 ACCESS Act" to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990. The legislation would reauthorize all funding streams found in the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). It also proposes to strengthen child care quality, reimbursement rates, child care workforce and professional development, and parental access. The original cosponsors include Senators Snowe (R-ME), Jeffords (I-VT), DeWine (R-OH), Breaux (D-LA), Reed (D-RI), Rockefeller (D-WV), and Collins (R-ME).
"2002 ACCESS Act"
Child Care Funding Level
- Reauthorizes discretionary funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant by striking the current $1 billion in authorization and inserts, "such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2003 through 2007."
- Reauthorizes mandatory child care funding under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from 2003 through 2007, but does not set a specific funding level. The bill sponsors will add their recommendations when the bill is considered in the appropriate Senate committees.
Child Care State Plan Process
- Requires state child care lead agencies to consult with other groups, agencies, and parties in the development of a state child care plan. Included in this consultation are parents, child care providers, other state agencies responsible for programs that deal with children and families (including the TANF program), businesses, community organizations, higher education institutions, early childhood educators, and other providers of child and family support services (including Head Start).
- The goal of these consultations are to develop a plan that meets the needs of working parents and the social, emotional, physical and cognitive developmental needs of children. The goals also include a coordination of services for early childhood development and school age child care. Goals include the provision of resources and services for children with special needs and their families.
Child Care State Plan Requirements
- States must certify that they will collect and disseminate information to parents about quality child care that meets the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive needs of children. States must also inform TANF parents and other low-income parents about eligibility.
- State plans must also indicate procedures for unannounced visits up to twice a year for each child care provider.
- States can apply for school readiness funds under the new, "Quality Child Care, Development, and Education Incentive Grants."
- State plans must also include information on the coordination of services with other child care and early childhood development programs, including education programs and schools and plans must describe the coordination between state staffs dealing with TANF and child care.
- The state plan must demonstrate that each child that receives a child care subsidy will receive assistance for 1 year before eligibility is redetermined.
- State plans must certify that there are training requirements for child care providers and that they will collect and disseminate information on the Child and Adult Care Food program.
Restructuring of Child Care Set-Asides
Current law requires a 4% general quality set-aside for child care. S. 2117 creates a different series of set-asides described below.
Quality Set-Aside for Resource and Referral, Training, and Other Services
- Five percent of funds received must be reserved or set-aside for child care quality services. These services include funding of resource and referral services, grants and loans to assist providers in meeting licensing and accreditation standards, grants to support training of family providers, the monitoring and compliance with licensing and regulation, training and technical assistance on a range of children's issues and needs, improving salaries and compensation to child care provider staff, improving payment rates, improving and expanding youth development activities for school age children, and providing other quality services as the state determines.
- The state may use a portion of these funds for child care resource and referral systems and services. The resource and referral organization shall provide parents with support and information on child care, collect and analyze data on supply and demand, and submit reports to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The resource and referral organization shall engage businesses, community-based organizations, and other parties in expanding services, provide or facilitate the provision of services as appropriate on health care, mental health, literacy services, services for children with special needs and child care for infants and toddlers. The organization will also provide training related to social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of children or facilitate the connection to such training and services.
Quality Set-Aside for Parent Access and to Increase Provider Rates
- Five percent of funds received must be reserved or set-aside for activities to increase the child care provider reimbursement rates.
- A state must demonstrate that it has conducted a statistically valid survey of current market rates paid to child care providers. The survey must be within 2 years since the submission of the previous state plan. The state must also supply information on the methodology used to conduct the survey, describe plans to increase current rates in relation to the survey results.
- Funds are to be used to increase current reimbursement rates to a level that is at least 80% of current reimbursement rate to a maximum of 100% of market rates. That is, provide a rate that will cover 80% of the child care market.
- States that have achieved a reimbursement rate of at least 80% may also invest funds in a "tiered" reimbursement rate structure. That would allow higher rates to be provided to child care providers that supply a form of care in short supply, such as care for infants, care for non-traditional work hours, care for children with special needs, rural based child care, and care that meets certain accreditation standards.
- States shall report to HHS the results of their efforts to increase rates and HHS shall issue a report to Congress.
- This set-aside takes effect only if mandatory funds ($2.7 billion) increase by 5% in fiscal year 2003.
Child Care Research and Data
- HHS shall reserve 2% of national funds for research. With these funds HHS shall establish a national child care research and data system to collect information and develop data on the supply, demand, and quality of child care and other issues. The system shall collect information from child care resource and referral organizations.
- HHS shall provide technical assistance in the development of this information system.
Quality Set-Aside for Child Care Career Development
- Five percent of funds received by a state must be reserved or set-aside for activities to fund career development and education for provider and child care workers. This set-aside takes effect only if mandatory funds ($2.7 billion) increase by 10% in fiscal year 2003.
- Programs that may be funded include job retention grants, provider scholarships for continuing or higher education, career counseling programs, wage incentive programs, accreditation training and support, and training activities provided by resource and referral organizations.
- Child development training shall include, among other things, training in social, emotional, physical and cognitive development, health, safety and nutrition, pre-literacy and language development, and training on the identification and the inclusion of children with special needs.
- To qualify and implement this career development system a state must submit a plan. The plan must include a description on efforts to recruit and retain child care providers, how a state will notify providers of the program, how grants will be distributed and how selection of providers and areas will be balanced.
- The bill outlines the requirements for implementing a child care provider development and retention grant and a child care provider scholarship program.
- States shall submit an annual report to HHS on the use of these funds and other information on providers, amount of grants, areas served, training provided, and children served among other information required.
Infant and Toddlers Activities
- Enacts into statute the current infant and toddler quality set-aside that has been funded over the last several years. FY 2003 funding is authorized at $100 million (current level), increasing to $200 million by 2007.
- Funds would be provided to states by formula to address programs for children age birth to 3. Activities include implementing health and safety licensing requirements, specialized training, and the creation of a statewide network of specialists on infants and toddlers.
- Providers served include child care centers, group home providers, and relatives.
Technical and Financial Assistance Grants
- $50 million is reserved for competitive national grants to be provided by HHS to assist in the facilities development. Priority funding would target communities that have a median income of 80% or less of the state median income.
Quality Child Care, Development, and Education Incentive Grants
- $100 million is reserved for competitive national grants. $50 million of this total is for applying-states to advance school readiness plans and activities. The other $50 million of this total will be for applying-communities attempting to establish and carry out quality child care initiatives based on the U.S. military model of child care services.
- Clarifies that children in the foster care system have the same status and eligibility for child care as children in the child protection system. This will compliment current law that makes children in protective services or in need of protective services categorically eligible for, but not entitled to, child care regardless of a parent's work or income status.
Child Care Centers in Federal Facilities
- Requirements for child care centers in federal facilities are strengthened. These facilities must meet state and local health and safety standards. The bill also requires the development of additional standards, including accreditation standards. In addition, the bill establishes an evaluation and compliance process and enforcement procedures when a facility is out of compliance. Requirements also apply to facilities that are located in the legislative and judicial branch of the government.
- Regulations are also to be developed to enhance security at these federally based child care centers as well as procedures for evacuation.
Transfer Authority for the Social Services Block Grant
- The bill restores the transfer authority of TANF funds to the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) to 10% from its current 4.25%
TANF - Child Care Amendments
- The legislation clarifies that child care that is paid directly out of TANF is not considered "assistance." Under current law, child care paid for with TANF funds had been considered assistance, which was then counted against a TANF recipient's 5-year limit on benefits. If a state spends TANF funds on child care, there is no requirement to include a set-aside of funds for quality initiatives as required under CCDF.
- The legislation also clarifies that any TANF funds a state carries over from the previous fiscal year can be spent on either assistance or services. Current regulations limit TANF funds carried over from previous fiscal years to be spent only on assistance.
- States will be required to report data on TANF-funded child care.
- Child care financed by TANF funds must meet the existing state health, and safety standards.
- States are required to provide staff training for TANF staff or locate child care staff in local TANF offices. States are to provide information to TANF recipients and those transitioning off TANF of the availability of child care services.
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