Allentown PA- With just weeks to go before a government funding deadline, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called for an end to the childcare backlog that keeps eligible families across Pennsylvania and throughout the nation from receiving childcare aid. 7,000 Pennsylvania families are on a waitlist for childcare aid, yet a House funding bill leaves investment for the upcoming fiscal year flat. Since the sequester went into effect in 2013, scores of vital programs have seen their funding squeezed due to across the board budget caps. At the Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers, Casey, joined by children benefitting from childcare and providers, made the case for closing the funding gap ahead of this month’s deadline. Childcare helps parents work and care for their families while boosting the economy.
“Child Care Funding is critically important for Pennsylvania, providing nearly $190 million in investments for some of our most vulnerable children and families,” Senator Casey said. “This is why I am calling on Congress to appropriate more funds for child care so all children are served. We need a budget agreement that works for children and families and an end to sequestration.
For the upcoming fiscal year the Senate has proposed an increase of $150 million for FY 2016, the House wants to keep funding level. Flat funding is essentially a cut because of inflation and normal year to year cost increases. Even with the $150 million increase, millions of eligible children and families would still be left without access to childcare support.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) provides subsidies to assist low-income families in obtaining child care so that parents can work or participate in education or training activities. Discretionary funding for this program is authorized by the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (as amended). In combination, these two funding streams are commonly referred to as the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). The CCDF is the primary source of federal funding dedicated solely to child care subsidies for low-income working and welfare families.
The CCDF is administered by the Office of Child Care at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and provides block grants to states, according to a formula, which are used to subsidize the child care expenses of working families with children under age 13. In addition to providing funding for child care services, funds are also used for activities intended to improve the overall quality and supply of child care for families in general.
For the most part, discretionary funding for CCDBG has gradually increased over the past five years. The exception is 2013, when due to sequestration, nearly $75 million was lost as a result of the across the board cuts.
Because of the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), across the board sequestration cuts were implemented in March of 2013. From that point on, the sequester lowered the statutory budget caps put in place by the BCA. These caps were temporarily raised by the Murray-Ryan budget agreement for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. While sequestration no longer means arbitrary across the board cuts like 2013, it does mean that the overall share of funding is smaller than it otherwise would be. This greatly constrains the ability of Congress to make adequate investments in early learning and education.