New federal funds help states increase child care subsidies for families and rates paid for child care services

October 9, 2019

A new report finds that most states used increased federal funding for a key early childhood education program to raise pay for child care providers, serve more eligible children, and meet reauthorization requirements established in the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The report and interactive maps provide a detailed look at how 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have used—or plan to use—increased federal funding aimed at expanding access to high-quality child care for low-income families.

The 2014 reauthorization of the CCDBG included policy changes intended to expand eligibility for child care subsidies, enhance health and safety practices for CCDBG providers, and provide workforce supports for early childhood educators. The reauthorization did not include additional funding and states struggled to implement these new requirements and increase the number of children served. In 2018, Congress increased discretionary funding for CCDBG by over $2 billion.

“We know from federal estimates that CCDBG was reaching only 15 percent of the 13.6 million children eligible to receive subsidies in 2014,” said Patti Banghart, an author of the report and an early childhood expert at Child Trends. “Our 2019 survey shows that states are focused on using this new funding to serve more children, while also ensuring the child care those children receive is high-quality, affordable, and provided by well-paid and professionally supported providers.”

Through a survey of states and territories, the report finds that:

  • 43 states and DC used, or plan to use, additional CCDBG funds to increase payment rates to child care providers.
  • 29 states and Guam plan to use additional CCDBG funds to increase the number of children served by the program.
  • 33 states and Guam used additional funds to increase professional development opportunities for early childhood educators.
  • 33 states and DC used additional funds to increase the availability of high-quality care for infants and toddlers.
  • 14 states and Guam used, or plan to use, additional funds to expand eligibility limits.
  • 37 states and Guam used, or plan to use, these funds to implement requirements added to the 2014 reauthorization of CCDBG.

While the increased funding for CCBDG spurred expanded access to subsidies for low-income families, most states (28, plus DC) also report needing additional funds to implement or maintain these improvements, particularly when it comes to implementing comprehensive background check requirements for providers.

“This report provides a strong starting point for policymakers to work with states to figure out what they need to keep expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care,” Banghart said. “By understanding what states have already done and where their priorities lie, policymakers can make sure they provide the appropriate funding and support in response.”