Reflections from the Executive Office

Obama Announces New Proposal to Help Low-Income Families

This entry is excerpted directly from an email sent by the National Women’s Law Center (thank you, Helen Blank and team)  Today, the President announced a major new proposal to help low-income families afford high-quality child care for their infants and toddlers, while reiterating his commitment to expanding access to preschool programs as well as other early care and education initiatives.

President Obama

President Obama during the 2015 State of the Union Address.

Under the President’s proposal, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) would receive significant new resources to allow many more families to receive child care assistance, enable states to effectively implement the important provisions of the CCDBG reauthorization law that passed last year with strong bipartisan support, and encourage new strategies to address the needs of families with particular challenges finding child care.

Here are the key components of the President’s proposal for child care:

  • All families with incomes up to 200 percent of poverty (about $40,000 a year for a family of three) and children under age four would be able to receive child care assistance so parents could work or attend school or job training, within ten years.  This measure would expand access to high-quality child care to 1 million more children, for a total of 2.6 million children receiving child care assistance each month, by 2025.
  • To receive the additional funding, states would be required to develop plans for building the supply of high-quality care for infants and toddlers and ensure that provider payment rates are sufficient to cover the cost of high-quality care and that parent copayments are reasonable.
  • Resources would be provided to help states achieve the objectives of the reauthorization law, which include ensuring children’s health and safety (through steps such as requirements for criminal background checks and regular inspections of child care programs), improving the quality of care (through strategies such as professional development opportunities for child care providers), and making the system more family-friendly.
  • Innovative strategies for addressing unmet child care needs would be encouraged through $100 million in competitive grants available to states, territories, tribes, and communities.  Funding would be awarded to grantees to develop, implement, and evaluate promising practices for helping families with challenges finding high-quality child care, particularly families in rural communities, families who have children with disabilities, and parents who work non-traditional hours.

The President’s plan on child care and early education includes several other components that I’ll write about in my next blog.