Burr, Mikulski, Harkin, Alexander Applaud Committee Passage of Bipartisan Reauthorization of Child Care and Development Block to Help American Families Access Safe, Affordable, Quality Child Care

Today, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) applauded the passage of the bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2013 by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. This bill reauthorizes and updates the CCDBG program, which helps low income parents access and afford child care while they work or attend school.

"The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is an important federal program to ensure that low-income parents have access to child care so that they can work," said Senator Burr. "For parents to choose care effectively, they need quality information about who is providing good care and who is not. The transparency we incorporate in this law will go a long way toward making parents well-informed consumers of child care. Of particular importance to me, no longer will it be acceptable for federal dollars to go to child care providers who have been convicted of violent crimes. We have included a requirement that anyone who has unsupervised access to children while receiving federal dollars must undergo a background check. I thank the Committee leadership, Senator Mikulski and all who have participated in crafting this bill for their cooperation in advancing commonsense reforms to make our children safer."

"Every working parent with children no matter their income level worries about child care. What's affordable? What's accessible? Will my child be safe? Where can I get the very best care for my kid? It is not enough to simply ensure that kids have someplace to go. We must also ensure that they go someplace that is safe, that nurtures their development, that challenges their mind and that prepares them for school," said Senator Mikulski. "The CCDBG program is supposed to give parents peace of mind. And for many families over many years, it has. But we can and should be doing more to improve child care for children, parents and providers alike. Today's action to pass this bipartisan legislation will revitalize, refresh and reform this vitally important program."

"In the nearly 20 years since the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act was last reauthorized, we have learned a great deal about child development, and the factors that contribute to successful child care programs," said Chairman Harkin. "Child care is a critical support for virtually every working parent, and this bipartisan bill will enhance quality and safety, ensure that low-income and at-risk children and families have access to affordable care, promote the healthy development of children enrolled, and improve services for children with disabilities who require care. This is a bill that reflects input from members of our Committee on both sides of the aisle, and I am pleased that the HELP Committee has moved forward on this critical bill."

"Access to quality child care can make all the difference in a child's early years, and this program has helped nearly 30,000 Tennessee families not only afford to enroll their children in child care, but be able to choose the type of care that's best for their family," said Senator Alexander

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. The HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families held three public hearings over the past Congress - 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 Act of 2013 incorporates feedback and suggestions provided to the Committee over the past year. 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 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.