When the Administration released its FY 2021 budget on Monday, February 10, 2020, they proposed level funding in child care and early childhood education funding, failing to provide adequate funding for child care. CWLA has joined a coalition of advocates, headed up by the National Women’s Law Center, in asking Congress to continue recent increases. The he letter says in part:
“To ensure that all families get the help they need, all children have an equal opportunity to succeed, and educators are paid what they deserve, we must invest federal dollars to expand access to high- quality, affordable child care and early learning. We acknowledge that the budget caps established for FY 2021 place limits on overall discretionary funding and strain your ability to expand funding to all program areas. However, we urge you to consider the massive need for additional funding in child care and early learning. Due to decades of underfunding relative to need, child care and early learning programs can only serve a fraction of children and families who are eligible and significant additional investments are needed to ensure that all families can find and afford high- quality child care, and that all educators are justly compensated for their work. For example, nearly five out of every six children eligible for child care assistance under federal rules do not receive it, and half of eligible children cannot participate in Head Start, with only eight percent of eligible infants and toddlers able to access Early Head Start.”
The CCDBG generally refers to all child care funding both the discretionary (appropriated) funds and the mandatory funds written into the TANF law. Both funding sources are covered by the same CCDBG regulations that were revised as a result of the 2014 CCDBG reauthorization. The 2014 bipartisan reauthorization of the CCDBG Act added requirements for increased quality, health, safety and certain protections for families intended to prevent the cut-off of child care subsidies due to a change in work hours or work conditions. Those new standards increased the need to significantly increase funds to both implement the new rules as well as address the already long waiting lists for child care subsidies.
The Administration budget is proposing maintaining funding at the FY 2020 level of $5.826 billion. The funding level represents an approximate $2.8 billion increase from 2018. The Administration does propose a one-time $1 billion increase in one-time grants. The competitive $1 billion in states grants (also included in the last year’s budget proposal) would require applying states to describe how they would use the funds to meet the unique needs of providers and employers in their state. To be eligible for the grant, states would be required to establish targets for reducing unnecessary regulatory or other requirements (such as zoning) that limit access to child care. The Administration argues such child care requirements limit the supply of care or increase the cost. State proposals to weaken standards would fly in the face of the 2014 bipartisan agreement that sought to improve the quality of child care and early childhood education by making state requirements more rigorous.
As Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) Executive Director Dr. Lynette Fraga highlighted that “the price of high-quality child care continues to increase.” According to HHS, over the past 15 years, the number of child care providers have dropped by 30 percent. In addition, the proposed cuts or reduction to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) are the same families who struggle to access child care and other safety net programs. These programs should be strengthen to avoid the harm on the nation’s most vulnerable families, including millions of children.