Although it's hard to get anything done in Washington these days, young children in child care will now be safer thanks to the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, which President Obama signed into law today. It has been 18 years since Congress reauthorized and revised the legislation that provides child-care subsidies to states, and the new law includes quality standards that Parents advocated for in our 2012 article, "The Child-Care Crisis." As part of a partnership with Child Care Aware of America, we hand-delivered a copy of the article to every member of Congress, and many of our readers sent emails to their Senators and Representatives in support of the bipartisan legislation.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal grant program that provides child-care assistance to low-income families. The new law affects child-care centers and individuals who care for children with the support of federal funding, but all children in child care are likely to benefit from the new higher standards. "For far too long, this program lacked key protections for children and families receiving federal assistance for child care. The quality needle has finally moved to ensure that children are in a safe setting that promotes their learning and healthy development," says Lynette Fraga, Ph.D., executive director of Child Care Aware of America.
Some of the key changes:
- States must develop health and safety standards related to first aid and CPR, and to reduce the risk of SIDS and child abuse.
- States must perform at least one annual inspection.
- Individuals who care for children must undergo a comprehensive background check.
- States must set aside three percent of funding to expand access and improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.