On March 13, 2014, the Senate approved legislation (S 1086, S. Rpt. 113-138) reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) for FYs 2014 through 2019. The bill, entitled the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, would make significant changes to the program and would provide an avenue by which tribes may receive an increased allocation and also utilize some funds for construction purposes. The bill was approved on a 96-2 vote.
CCDBG funding is discretionary but it is combined with mandatory funding authorized in Section 418 of the Social Security Act into the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF). Currently tribes receive an allocation of one to two percent – the Secretary of Health and Human Services has always allocated the full two percent to tribes. For FY 2014 the discretionary funding was $2.36 billion and the mandatory funding was $2.91 billion. Tribes received approximately $100 million from the
FY 2014 combined amount.
The last CCDBG reauthorization was in 1996 (it extended through 2002), and the Senate-approved version places new focus on state development of educational, health, and safety standards; child abuse prevention and reporting; criminal background checks; coordination with the Head Start, foster care and other programs; provision of increased supply and quality of care for children in underserved areas, infants and toddlers, children with disabilities, and children who receive care during non-traditional hours. States will be required to have at least one on-site inspection annually of CCDBG providers and also undertake pre-licensure inspection of child care providers. At the option of the tribe, states will coordinate with tribes in the development of its three-year CCDBG plan.
Three tribal-specific provisions of note are:
Funding Allocation. The tribal funding allocation would be changed from its current one to two percent to a minimum of two percent with the allocation being able to be increased if there is an increase from the previous year’s CCDBG discretionary appropriation. Senators Murkowski (R-AK) and Franken (D-MN) offered this amendment on the Senate floor; it was adopted by a vote of 93 to 6. The Administration has proposed a FY 2015 increase in the CCDBG discretionary funding.
Licensing and Standards. The bill would modify the current law’s provision regarding the development by the Secretary in consultation with tribes of licensing and regulatory requirements. In 2000, the Department of Health and Human Services issued voluntary minimum child care standards for tribes/tribal organizations receiving CCDF funds; those standards were updated and reissued in 2005. The provision in S1086 is:
“(D) LICENSING AND STANDARDS.–In lieu of any licensing and regulatory requirements applicable under State or local law, the Secretary, in consultation with Indian tribes and tribal organizations, shall develop minimum child care standards that shall be applicable to Indian tribes and tribal organizations receiving assistance under this subchapter. Such standards shall appropriately reflect Indian tribe and tribal organization needs and available resources, and shall include standards requiring a publicly available application, health and safety standards, and standards requiring a reservation of funds for activities to improve the quality of child care provided to Indian children.”
Construction Waiver. Senators Tester (D-MT) and Murkowski (R-AK) offered a floor amendment to allow tribes to apply to the Secretary to waive the prohibition on using funds for construction. It was approved by unanimous consent. The amendment is:
(B) in paragraph (6), by striking subparagraph (C) and inserting the following:
“(i) IN GENERAL.–Except as provided in clause (ii), the Secretary may not permit an Indian tribe or tribal organization to use amounts provided under this subsection for construction or renovation if the use will result in a decrease in the level of child care services provided by the Indian tribe or tribal organization as compared to the level of child care services provided by the Indian tribe or tribal organization in the fiscal year preceding the year for which the determination under subparagraph (B) is being made.
“(ii) WAIVER.–The Secretary shall waive the limitation described in clause (i) if—
“(I) the Secretary determines that the decrease in the level of child care services provided by the Indian tribe or tribal organization is temporary; and
“(II) the Indian tribe or tribal organization submits to the Secretary a plan that demonstrates that after the date on which the construction or renovation is completed—
“(aa) the level of child care services will increase; or
“(bb) the quality of child care services will improve.”
The overwhelming support in the Senate may have improved the chances for enactment of the reauthorization of the CCDBG, although it is uncertain at this point what action the House will take.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding the Child Care and Development Block Grant legislation.