Federal Legislation Updates

FY2017 Federal Budget Status

On September 28, two days before the end of the fiscal year, Congress approved a Continuing Resolution (CR) to continue federal funding through December 9, 2016. A 10 week CR was necessary because the fiscal year ended September 30th and Congress was scheduled to adjourn (i.e., recess through the November elections).  Funding was largely continued at FY2016 levels (a freeze) until final determinations can be made in December. Note: An across-the-board spending reduction of .5% was applied in order to keep spending below budget caps.

Many funding decisions will need to be made when Congress reconvenes after the election.  It is unclear whether funds will be frozen as part of an FY2017 6 month CR, a year long CR, or potentially informed and adjusted based on committee action earlier this year.

Earlier this year, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved their respective FY2017 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bills for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2016. It is unclear at this time when the bills will be voted on by the full House and Senate.  For more information related to the federal budget, check out ECEC’s federal budget page.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Early Care and Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act

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On December 10th, 2015 President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, Congress’ reauthorization (revision) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, previously referred to as the “No Child Left Behind” Act. Here’s what you need to know about early care and learning in the new law.

Early care and learning are embedded throughout provisions within the new legislation, including those addressing Title I, the Ready to Learn literacy program, Promise Neighborhoods, and charter schools. In addition, language now refers to an educational “pipeline” that extends from early childhood throughout post-secondary education. Section 854B emphasizes Congress’ view that state decisions regarding early learning and child care should be independent of federal choice for parents through a mixed delivery system of services so parents can determine the right early learning and child care option for their children.

However, the centerpiece of early care and learning in the new law is under the umbrella of Preschool Development Grants, found in Section 9212. This set of provisions refers to the coordination of comprehensive mixed delivery systems of all early care and learning programs within states, including all federally, state, and privately funded programs serving low and moderate-income children. This encompasses child care, Early Head Start and Head Start, licensed family and center-based child care programs, public schools, and community-based organizations.

Here is a brief summary of the new Preschool Development Grants program:

  • It will be jointly administered by the Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS); however, the program will be housed by HHS.
  • All states are eligible to apply for competitive 1-year grants to support strategic planning and implementation of their state early childhood mixed delivery systems, focused on improving the school readiness of “low-income and disadvantaged” children and improving transitions into the K-12 system.
  • States must commit to matching funding at 30% of the grant award.
  • States are eligible to apply for a 3-year renewal grant.
  • Governors will identify a state entity to administer the grant.
  • State strategic plans should address how states plan to use existing resources in order to:
    • Align and strengthen the delivery of existing programs by more efficiently using federal, state, local and private resources;
    • Coordinate delivery models and funding streams;
    • Improve both participation and program quality while maintaining the availability of services; and
    • Improve parental choice among existing programs.
  • State grant activities must include:
    • A periodic statewide needs assessment;
    • Collaboration, coordination, and partnership opportunities that improve both program quality, service delivery, and program participation;
    • Alignment with existing early childhood statewide initiatives, including governance among State Advisory Councils, as well as the Child and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014.
    • Maximizing parental choice and knowledge of mixed delivery system programs and providers; and
    • Sharing best practices among state programs and providers.
  • These grants will not be subject to any federal mandates regarding specific requirements around standards, curriculum, and assessment, measures or indicators of quality, teacher and staff qualifications and salaries, program duration (length of day and year), or class sizes and ratios.
  • States are encouraged to use subgrants to carry out their strategic plan activities. There is a limit of 60% of funding to support subgrants within a state’s first year of their grant renewal, and 75% in the second year of renewal.
  • The House has approved an appropriation of $250m to support this program from FY 2017-2020.

With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, complemented by last year’s reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), states are poised to leverage new statutory reach to align state systems and expand access to high-quality early care and learning programs, including state-funded preschool for children from low- and moderate-income families. However, both federal and state resources remain critical in order to maximize the impact of both newly minted laws. With adequate levels of investment behind them, these key legislative packages may open new inroads that significantly advance how we support America’s workforce of today and tomorrow.

 Child Care and Development Block Grant

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2014 White House signing ceremony

CCDBG Signed Into Law By President Obama

On November 19th, 2014, the President signed the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act  into law. After 18 years without a reauthorization, enactment of the bill in a bipartisan bicameral manner was a historic achievement.

The CCDBG Act of 2014 incorporates input and changes made over the course of the past several years as Congressional leaders and staff, as well as a broad community of advocates and voices from the field, worked to update and improve the act, last authorized in 1996.  Introduced in the 113th Congress during the Summer of 2014, the bill represented a bipartisan commitment to reauthorizing the law made by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita(R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC).

CCDBG significantly improves child care safety, quality, and access through a series of key provisions outlined below.  The bill includes new language that directly addresses affordability, continuity of care, and cost stabilization that will both benefit families and support providers. Much of this language came directly from ECEC member perspectives that were communicated to Congressional leaders through a variety of channels.

For more information on CCDBG, check out ECEC’s high quality care page.

Final CCDBG regulations were published in the Federal Register on September 30, 2016.  Resources related to the final regulations:

Connecting Children and Families to the Affordable Health Care Act

The Department of Health and Human Services has released materials to assist community resources, including child care centers, with connecting children and families to health insurance coverage via the Affordable Health Care Act. Resources include:

Information Toolkit: Download a condensed version of our health care law toolkit to use during the final weeks of open enrollment.

Need health care?  https://www.healthcare.gov/