WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 25, 2014 -
The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), today held a hearing entitled, “The Foundation for Success: Strengthening the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program.” During the hearing, members discussed the committee’s priorities for reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, and examined opportunities to help improve the quality of the program’s child care services.
In his opening remarks, Chairman Rokita said, "CCDBG is invaluable to parents who are struggling to provide for their families. As a father of two boys, I know firsthand child care isn’t just finding a place for your kids to go during your work day. It’s a far more difficult decision about choosing a provider where you can trust trained professionals will care for your child in a safe environment.”
“Child care is a way of life today for the majority of families. Times have changed over the years and more mothers are working today than 24 years ago when the Child Care and Development Block Grant was first enacted,” said Paula Koos, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Child Care Resource & Referral Association.
“Across the country, the most recent federal data shows that 1.5 million children on average every month are in CCDBG funded child care settings,” Ms. Koos added. “I believe it’s time to provide some minimum protections for all our children across this great country and to ensure that public dollars are spent in an accountable way.”
A recent review of the Child Care and Development Fund determined states face significant challenges in meeting suggested program standards. Gloria Jarmon, Deputy Inspector General for Audit Services for the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services, provided an overview of the report’s findings.
“First, vulnerabilities exist in states’ standards and monitoring of child care providers that put the health and safety of some children at risk,” Ms. Jarmon said. “Two, weaknesses in certain states’ fiscal controls over obligation and liquidation activities put CCDF funds at risk of being misspent.” Ms. Jarmon emphasized the importance of ensuring the affordable child care services offered under CCDBG do not sacrifice quality or safety.
Linda Kostantenaco, president of the National Child Care Association, expressed support for raising the quality standards under CCDBG while also maintaining the program’s flexibility. “Such flexibility ensures parents the opportunity to find an appropriate child care center that satisfies their needs and the unique needs of their children,” Mrs. Kostantenaco said. “It is this array of choice that facilitates the best partnership between a family and their child care center.”
“As many of you know, our colleagues in the Senate recently approved the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act of 2014,” Rep. Rokita said. “While many of [the] provisions [in the Senate bill] will help to improve the quality of child care, we must also take steps to ensure these new requirements will help – not hinder – states in meeting the needs of children and their families…If we are truly here to fight for people, and to empower people so they can build better lives for themselves and their families, access to quality child care is something we must address.”
Rep. Rokita concluded, “The reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides an opportunity to work together to advance bipartisan legislation that will help our nation’s most vulnerable children and families. I look forward to examining the strengths and weaknesses of the CCDBG program, and discussing opportunities for consensus between House priorities for reauthorization and the Senate-passed legislation.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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