To ensure Alaskan families can afford safe, quality child care for their children, U.S. Senator Mark Begich today offered his support to the Child Care Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG) including two amendments that would designate tribal funding and would allow family leave in the event of the death of a child.
"In many Alaskan families both parents work and need to be confident that their children are well-cared for while they focus on earning a living," said Begich. "The high cost of child care should not prevent a parent from joining the workforce. As working parents, Deborah and I understand the value of quality, affordable childcare. That's why I'm pleased to be able to support this bill and to offer amendments that will ensure quality child care is affordable to even more families."
Begich received the Champion for Children award yesterday
from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The bill is currently under consideration on the Senate floor and could pass the Senate as soon as Thursday. In addition to funding, the CCDBG will help working families through the following programs and provisions:
Requiring comprehensive background checks. The CCDBG reauthorization would require comprehensive criminal background checks for all licensed child care providers and providers receiving CCDBG funds, including checking state criminal and sex-offender registries and state-based abuse and neglect registries.
Developing health and safety standards. States would be required to develop 13 specific health and safety standards, including training for First Aid and CPR, prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and child abuse prevention.
Improving program quality and prioritizing access to high quality care. The CCDBG reauthorization will require states to set aside 3 percent of funding to expand access and improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.
"Studies show that quality childcare and early learning increase test scores and socials skills, which leads to higher graduation rates," said Begich. "Not only will this bipartisan bill promote healthy development for children, it will help our middle-class working parents and working moms to get the support they need to make sure our economy thrives."
"Every family wants the best for their children, including having access to affordable, quality child care," said Melinda Myers, COO of thread, Alaska's Child Care Resource and Referral Network. "Research shows that quality early learning experiences are linked to positive life-long outcomes for children. The reauthorization of CCDBG after an 18-year hiatus is a vote of support for our Nation's children, families and employers. In Alaska, as in other states, families rely on child care to work to support their families which in turn helps to strengthen our national and local economies. All families deserve access to affordable, quality child care and the reauthorization is a step towards achieving that. We thank Senator Begich for his leadership and support of this issue."
Alaska received $12.1 million in federal funding from the CCDBG last year, which supported 4,200 Alaskan children each month. Of those children receiving CCDBG funding, 77 percent received child care in a licensed child care setting.
CCDBG was first signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 to assist working families with the cost of child care. CCDBG is the primary federal grant program providing child care assistance for low-income families and supporting child care quality initiatives. States use the grants to help low-income families gain access to quality, affordable child care and after school programs.