Summer Federal Policy Updates

July 17, 2023

As the much-anticipated Congressional August recess approaches, it is important to note all that has happened since the start of the 118 th Congress in January. Over the past seven months, there have been several child care and early education bills introduced and reintroduced. Congress is also busy in the middle of the annual appropriations process, with appropriations committee and subcommittee bill markups currently happening.   

Child Care for Working Families Act 

In April 2023, Senator Murray and Representative Scott reintroduced the Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA – S.1354/ H.R.2976), which has been introduced every Congress since 2017 – this time with updates. One of the largest updates is the addition of Building an Affordable System for Early Education (BASE) grants. These grants would go to every state, no opt-in required, and provide $9 billion distributed annually to help defray child care providers’ costs to operate.  

Child Care Aware® of America supports the CCWFA. This piece of legislation would lower the price of child care for families, especially for those most in need. In addition, it would invest in the supply of child care, ensuring that quality is improved, care is available during nonstandard hours, and more slots are available in high-quality preschool programs, in Head Start programs and for infants and toddlers. Finally, the legislation would support the early childhood education workforce by improving compensation. 

Read more about the updates in the most recent version of the CCWFA here. 

Additional federal child care bills in the 118th Congress 

In addition to the CCWFA, CCAoA has proudly endorsed several other bills related to child care and early education this Congress. A few include: 

  • After Hours Child Care Act (S.976/ H.R.3639) – would support the expansion of existing child care programs, or establishing new ones so parents can work outside the traditional work hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  
  • Build Housing with Care Act of 2023 (S.1738/ H.R.3207) – would expand access to affordable housing and child care through the establishment of a grant program to promote the co-location of housing and child care providers.    
  • Expanding Child Care in Rural America Act (S.1867) – would support local businesses and nonprofits working to provide affordable child care in rural communities. The bill would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development to authorize and prioritize projects that address the availability, quality and cost of child care in agricultural and rural communities through several different programs. The bill would also allow USDA to make awards through intermediaries such as Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs), staffed family child care networks, and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) with demonstrated expertise in the child care sector.  

You can view the federal bills CCAoA is tracking and our stances here. 

The debt ceiling negotiation and FY24 appropriations 

Earlier this year, President Biden and Congress came to an agreement to raise the debt ceiling and prevent the U.S. from defaulting on the federal debt through the Fiscal Responsibility Act. This law sets caps on federal funding for FY24 at around FY23 levels, without adjustments for inflation. The law includes recissions of unspent funding. While child care funding distributed to states is unaffected, the Office of Child Care is losing some unspent administrative funds. 

With funding levels set, the work in the appropriations committees has picked up steam. Although the Republican-controlled House of Representatives Appropriations Committee wants to keep numbers even lower than what was outlined in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Democrat-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee has come in slightly higher than the House. Negotiations will continue this summer. With a limited amount of funding to go around, increases for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) face steep odds. Advocacy matters as Members of Congress make funding decisions in the coming months. CCAoA will continue to monitor the federal appropriations process, especially the proposed allocations for CCDBG which are expected to come out later this summer.  



Topics: Policy & Advocacy

Christina Koch

Written by Christina Koch

Christina Koch is currently the Federal Policy Analyst at Child Care Aware of America. Her background is in federal and state education policy and she also has experience providing direct social services to children and families. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Communication from American University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where she was awarded the Julee Kryder-Coe Award for Advocacy and Social Action. She is originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts.