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Senator introduced bipartisan legislation to support CCDBG which serves more than 1.5 million children every month, including 19,000 in Maryland; Bill passes Senate with bipartisan 97-1 vote
March 13, 2014
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today heralded Senate passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014, bipartisan legislation she introduced to improve the quality of child care for the more than 1.5 million children and families, including 19,000 in Maryland, who benefit from the federal child care subsidy program.
The legislation, introduced by Senator Mikulski along with Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 96-2. It passed the Senate HELP Committee with unanimous bipartisan support last September.
"Today's bipartisan action by the Senate to refresh and reform the vitally important CCDBG program is good news that will bring peace of mind to the thousands of Maryland families who rely upon this program for child care. I introduced this legislation to ensure that child care across America is available, affordable, reliable, safe and exceptional," Senator Mikulski said. "Child care is something all families worry about regardless of their zip code or the size of their wallet. We all say that children are one of our most important resources – which means that child care is one of our most important decisions. For more than 1.5 million American families, including 19,000 in Maryland, CCDBG provides a lifeline so that all children have the care that they need and deserve. Updating this vitally important child care program will help support those who care for our children, give parents peace of mind that their children are safe and receiving quality care, and better prepare our children for the future. It will help keep working parents at work while ensuring children have a safe environment that provides them the skills they need to begin to develop their potential and be better prepared for school."
When the CCDBG program was last reauthorized in 1996, the program rightly focused primarily on workforce aid. But in the intervening years, more has been learned about the necessity of not just providing children with a place to go, but also the importance of providing them with high-quality care. Last Congress, Senators Mikulski and Burr held three public hearings—consulting with parents, childcare providers and early learning and developmental experts and other child care advocacy organizations—to explore how best the CCDBG program could be reauthorized and improved.
The CCDBG reauthorization bill incorporates feedback and suggestions provided to the Committee since 2012. The bill requires states to devote more of their funding to quality initiatives, such as: training, professional development, and professional advancement of the child care workforce. The bill ensures that CCDBG providers meet certain health and safety requirements related to prevention and control of infectious diseases, first aid and CPR, child abuse prevention, administration of medication, prevention of and response to emergencies due to food allergies, prevention of sudden infant death syndrome and shaken baby syndrome, building and physical premises safety, and emergency response planning. The legislation gives families more stability in the CCDBG program and works to improve early childhood care also by requiring states to focus on infant and toddler quality initiatives. Finally, the bill requires mandatory background checks for child care providers in the CCDBG program.
The bipartisan bill is supported by Afterschool Alliance, American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees (AFSME), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Catholic Charities USA, Child Care Aware, Children's Defense Fund, Easter Seals, First Focus, MomsRising, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Child Abuse Coalition, National PTA, National Women's Law Center (NWLC), Stand for Children, Teach for America, United Way Worldwide and Zero to Three, among many others.
A summary of the bill can be seen here. The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled.