HHS’ Admin, for Children and Families (ACF) releases new quality and safety standards aimed at providing higher quality care and safer environments for programs that receive funding under the $5 billion Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF).
The rule, which implements bipartisan legislation signed by President Obama in 2014, sets higher standards for states, territories and tribes receiving federal funds through important areas such as health and safety requirements; training and professional development for child care providers; and eligibility rules that better support working families.
The funds are sent directly to the states, which then spend the money on services and programing.
Last year, the federal government provided over $5 billion to help 850,000 working families pay for child care and to support quality improvements for providers. For example, Maryland received $88 million in federal funding, which each month serves 18,300 children (10,900 families).
CCDF programs nationally serve approximately 1.4 million children each month, a majority of whom are children under the age of five, ACF said. The new rule protects the health and safety of children, helps parents make more informed consumer choices and supports early child development.
All children in one of the 370,000 child care settings across the country that participate in the federal child care program – not just those receiving direct child care assistance – will benefit from new health and safety requirements, ACF said.
“Many parents rely on child care programs, and it is important that their children are cared for in safe learning environments with qualified providers,” said HHS Secy. Sylvia . Burwell. “These new standards, which are the result of bipartisan legislation, include robust safety, screening, and training procedures to boost quality, empower parents, and ensure that child care programs promote healthy and positive early childhood development.”
The rule strengthens a number of new provisions in the law and provides needed guidance.
- Devoting more funding to improve quality across all child care settings;
- Ensuring CCDF programs are monitored at least annually so children are healthy and safe in child care programs.
- Requiring all staff in child care facilities have mandatory criminal background checks;
- Enhancing the health and safety of children through more robust standards for CCDF providers, including requiring initial and ongoing training and professional development on 10 key topics (e.g. First Aid/CPR, medication administration, SIDS prevention);
- Disseminating information to help parents choose child care, including through an accessible website.
Info: https://goo.gl/ermBD3 (CCDF website).