ERIC Identifier: ED365468
Publication Date: 1994-01-00
Author: Blank, Helen
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL.
Using Federal Funds To Improve Child Care. ERIC Digest.
New federal money for child care, flowing to the states as a result of the
landmark 1990 child care legislation called the Child Care and Development (CCD)
Block Grant Act, has prompted states to make significant improvements in state
child care programs and policies.
A recent report by the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) (1993), based on a
survey of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, shows that states have
used CCD block grant money to:
* serve more children and families needing child care assistance;
* expand the supply of child care available to low-income families;
* improve access to child care services through better resource-and-referral
* enhance the quality of child care programs serving low-income children
This digest reviews ways that states are using federal CCD block grant funds
to invest in child care quality and supply, focusing on eight specific areas of
child care needs.
CHILD CARE LICENSING AND MONITORING
State officials view
the monitoring of child care programs as the most essential activity for
ensuring quality, according to a recent study by the U.S. General Accounting
Office (1992). CDF's survey of state child care administrators confirms states'
concern about child care licensing and monitoring. At least 40 states have used
block grant money to improve licensing and monitoring activities, and 22 states
have used block grant money to provide grants and loans to help child care
providers meet licensing or registration requirements and to help with start-up
RESOURCE AND REFERRAL SERVICES
Resource and referral
services (R&Rs) are an essential component of a strong child care system.
R&Rs counsel families about their child care options; help families locate
appropriate services; and, in some locations, administer child care voucher
programs and gather data concerning their community's child care needs. The CDF
study indicated that all but eight states invested CCD block grant funds in
supporting the development of an R&R network. Florida, for example, used
block grant money to establish standards for R&R agencies and to help
R&Rs make their parent counseling services more effective.
CHILD CARE FOR INFANTS, SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN, AND CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
In general, parents have difficulty finding
appropriate care for infants, school-age children, and children with special
needs because these types of care are in short supply. According to the CDF
* twenty-two states used CCD block grant funds to invest in new infant care
programs or to support training for providers who work with infants;
* forty-six states put block grant money into developing school-age programs
or training providers who served school-age children;
* nineteen states used block grant funds to expand child care services for
teen parents; and
* twenty-eight states used block grant money to expand or improve the quality
of child care services for special needs children; Minnesota, for example,
launched an initiative to recruit and train providers to care for special needs
children, and the state of Washington intends to fund each of its counties to
pay for comprehensive child care for homeless children to avert the need for the
children to enter Protective Services.
CHILD CARE FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES
Low state reimbursement
rates in public child care programs historically have discouraged providers from
serving low-income families. In 1990 CDF found that state child care officials
in 36 states believed that their state reimbursement rates or policies deterred
providers from serving low-income children (Adams, 1990). Many states are using
CCD block grant money in an effort to remedy these concerns. For example, 36
states have used the block grant to raise reimbursement rates, thereby
increasing the supply of providers and improving the quality of care for
low-income children; and 22 states have changed their reimbursement policy
regarding absent days to remove disincentives for serving low-income children.
In addition, some states have used block grant money to make it easier for
low-income parents to apply for and receive child care assistance. For example,
Ohio has developed one application form for all of its child care programs and
one simplified contract for all providers. Parents may pick up and drop off
applications at libraries and health centers. Texas has implemented a statewide
child care management system through which all funding is channeled.
COMPREHENSIVE AND ENRICHED SERVICES
enriched child care and early childhood programs are especially important for
low-income children. The CDF study revealed that:
* twenty states have used CCD block grant funds to supplement their federally
funded Head Start programs, often by enriching program services or extending
* five states have used block grant funds to enable some child care providers
to offer enriched services; and
* New Jersey and Washington have invested block grant funds in state
preschool programs that provide comprehensive services.
TRAINING FOR PROVIDERS
Since 1990 every state but one has
invested some block grant money in training providers. State initiatives have
included special training for providers serving low-income children, the use of
mobile vans to bring training programs to rural providers, payments for
providers' coursework toward early childhood credentials or degrees, and the
development of statewide training programs.
Only nine states have used block grant funds for
specific compensation-related projects. These states are using a variety of
approaches, including establishing commissions, conducting surveys about ways to
improve salaries and benefits for providers, and linking increased training and
credentialing to salary improvements.
Almost every state created some type of
advisory committee to plan for initial implementation of the CCD block grant.
These committees often forged new relationships between child care advocates and
state administrators, and new partnerships among agencies responsible for child
care and early childhood education. Wisconsin and Kentucky used the early
planning process to create a legislative blueprint for the state's future child
care activities. In many states the planning process resulted in closer
statewide collaboration than had previously existed.
All states have used the new federal child care
funds to increase the number of low-income families receiving child care
assistance. At least 19 states have enabled more low-income families to receive
child care assistance by raising the income cutoff for eligibility; 9 states
have raised the maximum income that families already receiving assistance can
earn before losing their child care subsidy; and 30 states are providing more
assistance to low-income families by adjusting their sliding-fee scales.
Despite these important gains, the unmet need for child care assistance
remains huge. Because available state and federal child care funding cannot fill
the need for child care assistance, most states either have lengthy waiting
lists for child care assistance or have stopped accepting new applications for
Conditions such as these clearly indicate that federal, state, and local
governments must collaborate with the private sector, religious organizations,
and volunteer groups if we are going to meet the child care needs of low-income
Adapted from: Blank, Helen. (1993). Improving Child Care Quality and Supply:
The Impact of the Child Care and Development Block Grant. "Young Children" 48(6,
Sep): 32-34. EJ 469 386.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Adams, G.C. (1990). "Who Knows How
Safe? The Status of State Efforts to Ensure Quality Child Care." Washington, DC:
Children's Defense Fund.
Child Care Employee Project. (1992). On the Horizon: New Policy Initiatives
To Enhance Child Care Staff Compensation. "Young Children" 47(5, Jul): 39-43. EJ
Children's Defense Fund. (1993). "Investing in Our Children's Care: An
Analysis and Review of State Initiatives To Strengthen the Quality and Build the
Supply of Child Care Funded through the Child Care and Development Block Grant."
Washington, DC: Author.
U.S. General Accounting Office. (1992). "Child Care: States Face Difficulties
in Enforcing Standards Promoting Quality." Gaithersburg, MD: Author. ED 355 025.