Mandatory Child Care Investments Are Crucial for Building a Long-Term System

In 1990, Congress created the Child Care Development Fund, which comprises several different kinds of child care funding. The biggest share of the fund comes from discretionary spending through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which is subject to the annual appropriations process. Mandatory money, which flows through the Child Care Entitlement to States (CCES), in contrast, is written into law and guaranteed each year.

While Congress has made important discretionary funding decisions that remain critical to the success of child care in this country, the added assurance of mandatory child care dollars allows states to make long-term investments in their child care programs. CCDBG, which depends on annual Congressional approval, is allocated to states based on a funding formula with no required spending from the state. Mandatory money, however, requires a state match and “maintenance of effort” so that federal dollars do not supplant, but rather build on, existing state spending.

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