Tracking the Use of Increased CCDBG Funding in Three States

Research BriefCOVID-19Aug 25 2020

Child care is an essential resource for the economic health of our nation and the developmental health and well-being of our children. The importance of child care has become acutely relevant as families across the nation have experienced a reduction or complete loss of child care due to COVID-19. Through the child care provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 and the recent increases in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in 2018, states are actively working to allocate resources to support families and child care providers.

Though it is too early to track outcomes due to policy changes made with the 2018 and 2020 CCDBG allocations, some states have begun to use state administrative data to monitor progress as a result of policy changes made with the 2018 CCDBG funding. This brief provides examples of how CCDBG implementation strategies in three states—Georgia, Michigan, and Oklahoma—may lead to improved outcomes for children, families, and providers. Lessons learned can help inform state policymakers’ efforts to improve access to high-quality early care and education (ECE) through CCDBG and improve recovery efforts following the COVID-19 crisis.


Since the early 1990s, CCDBG has aimed to improve access to child care for families with low income whose parents go to work or school.1 CCDBG promotes parental choice and consumer education for parents when they select child care, and includes funds to improve the quality of care and the qualifications of the ECE workforce.

The CCDBG Act of 1990 authorized the appropriation of funds for child care subsidies through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). As a block grant, CCDBG outlines requirements while also allowing states discretion in how they set subsidy policies and use funds.2 In 2014, the first major reauthorization to CCDBG set new requirements focused on ensuring child care health and safety, improving the overall quality of early learning and afterschool programs, providing continuity of access to child care, and promoting consumer education.3


CCDBG has historically been underfunded relative to the number of eligible children in need of care. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that only 15 percent of 13.6 million eligible children were served by subsidies.4 Without additional funding, states struggled to implement the reauthorization requirements while maintaining the limited number of available child care slots. To address this need, Congress appropriated the largest-ever increase in discretionary funding to CCDF in 2018, followed by another increase in 2020, bringing the total amount of discretionary funding to $5.8 billion.5,6 These funds were intended to enable more families to obtain subsidized child care and ensure that the 2014 CCDBG reauthorization requirements could be fully implemented.7

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold in the winter of 2020, states’ priorities shifted with regard to the use of their federal dollars. In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included $3.5 billion in emergency funds for CCDBG to support child care workers and families that were grappling with the impact of the pandemic.8 Likewise, the federal Administration for Children and Families issued guidance to allow states more flexibility in meeting CCDBG requirements.9 A recent policy scan conducted by Child Trends revealed that a majority of states used these resources to continue paying providers that were forced to close or saw decreased attendance, provide funding to support emergency care for essential workers, and waive or cover a portion of child care fees that families would have otherwise had to pay.10