Child Care Aware® of America has responded to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the Department of Health and Human Services and their notice for a request for information (RFI) on “Improving Access to Affordable, High Quality Child Care.”
About the Call for Information
The ACF initially made their request for information in October 2019, calling on parents; family child care home providers; large and chain child care providers; pre-k groups; school administrators; child care regulators; state and local officials; employers; child care resource and referral agencies; workforce development organizations; economic development organizations; and more. Please let us know in the comments below if you or your organization added a comment to the RFI.
Their request is focused on, “strategies to improve access to high quality, affordable child care in the U.S….” More specifically, they asked for thoughts around, “Identifying emerging and innovative practices to improve access to high quality child care, as well as identifying regulatory and other policies that unnecessarily drive up the cost of care or limit parents' choice of different child care options; and identifying ways to improve funding of child care and other related early education programs to support quality and create a more streamlined, equitable, and sustainable financing framework for future generations.”
While a priority should be placed on improving access to high-quality, affordable child care for underserved communities, CCAoA’s comments point out that regulatory policy should not be targeted as the means for doing so. This is because many requirements, such as ratios, background checks, and nutrition, are essential to the safety and wellbeing of children. Moreover, a recent CCAoA analysis found that data suggests there is not a correlation between increased regulations and the decreasing supply or increasing cost of high-quality child care.
Instead of lowering standards, CCAoA recommends largescale public investments into the system and the workforce. This includes a funding increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, which has remained severely underfunded for many years.
CCAoA also recommends supporting our nation’s network of child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agencies, who serve as the frontlines of improving families’ access to high-quality care for their children. CCR&Rs are also excellent sources state-level data on cost and quality, as well as amplifying the voices of the families they serve.
By the time the comment period ended on December 2, 2019, the ACF received thousands of views and hundreds of comments on this RFI from across the country, ranging from early childhood professionals to parents and advocates.
We look forward to seeing how the comments collected by the ACF impact and influences future rulemaking and technical assistance, legislative proposals and research agendas and strategic planning.