As part of the CR/budget deal, the child care community had one of their most significant victories since the creation of the CCDBG in 1990. Congress still has to finalize the appropriations, so there could still be challenges, but the deal explicitly included a $5.8 billion increase in child care funding with an expected split of $2.9 billion in 2018 and 2019.
According to the HHS Child Care Bureau, in 2015, 1.4 children in 847,000 families were receiving child care subsidies. This is through a combination of annual appropriated funds ($2.8 billion in 2017) and through the TANF child care matching fund (2.9 billion in 2017). CLASP has estimated that the new funding for child care will add services to 230,000 children, a historic and long overdue increase.
The last most significant increase to CCDBG was $2 billion provided as part of the 2009 stimulus package which was temporary (although some of it was later added in over the years). Beyond that the next biggest increase was at the end of the Clinton Administration in FY 2001 with an increase of approximately $900 million and previous to that was an initial boost in child care funds of over $600 million in year one followed by yearly state matching fund increases that were a part of the TANF block grant. Those matching funds provided annual matching increases of approximately $200 million per year over each of six years.
In short the child care increases, if implemented in March, are historic and very much needed. In 2014 Congress reauthorized the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) for the first time since the 1996 TANF law. They included many important health, safety and eligibility protections but because child care quality, subsidies and eligibility all come from the same pool of funding, the new protections had the effect of reducing coverage for families.
A 2017 analysis by CLASP indicated that to implement the reforms of the 2014 reauthorization would cost $775 million with an additional $612 million needed to maintain the existing caseload. These two figures along with additional funds result in the expansion to more than 226,000 children.
CWLA had joined with advocates in a national sign on letter and advocacy requesting such increases and the child care community maintained their steady advocacy which has almost always resulted in limited but annual increases in child care funds. Now they are close to a final budget victory for the next few years that will advance the quality and access to child care.