Bipartisan Bennet Amendment will Better Coordinate Funding Streams
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A provision sponsored by U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Republican Senator Johnny Isakson from Georgia to promote a more coordinated system of early learning and care programs is on its way to the President's desk as a part of the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act.
The bill reauthorizing the CCDBG program is designed to improve the quality of early learning and care programs and increase access to child care by providing funding for care to low-income families, allowing parents to work or attend school. In addition to provisions to strengthen program quality, the act includes measures to require background checks for child care providers receiving CCDBG funds, require that programs receiving CCDBG funds pass a state inspection, and ensure that inspection results are available to parents.
"We know the important and influential role early childhood education and care has on a child's success," Bennet said. "This bill helps to ensure that all kids can benefit from these essential early childhood learning programs and that parents have access to quality child care so that they can work to support their families. We devised our amendment with Senator Isakson to find ways to make states and programs operate smarter and more efficiently. By coordinating federal, state and local resources, we'll help cut down on unnecessary work and promote a more integrated system while ensuring that we're actually meeting the needs of children and families."
The Bennet-Isakson amendment helps states identify where funding streams can better complement each other, promoting a more integrated system of early learning and care programs. It also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide guidance and information on best practices regarding the use of funding combined by states. It was cosponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). Greater coordination among these funding streams will help ensure that resources are being used to their maximum potential and that programs are responsive to the needs of families.
The bill also includes a provision aimed at encouraging public-private partnerships to leverage existing service delivery systems and increase the supply and quality of child care services. This provision expressly highlights the implementation of shared services alliance models, like the innovative model employed by Colorado-based Merage Foundation's Early Learning Ventures, as a potential method for achieving these goals.
Access to quality, affordable childcare is essential for working families, particularly for low-income families. Childcare is the largest household expense for dual income households and in 2012-2013 increased up to eight times the rate of family income. Studies show that access to quality childcare not only increases women's participation in the labor force and positively effects children, but also that every dollar invested in high-quality early education provides a greater savings in increased graduation rates and reduced rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy.