S 1155

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 1155

To amend the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 to improve access to high quality early learning and child care for low-income children and working families, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 8, 2011

Mr. CASEY (for himself and Ms. MIKULSKI) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions


A BILL

To amend the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 to improve access to high quality early learning and child care for low-income children and working families, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Starting Early Starting Right Act'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

    (a) Findings- Congress makes the following findings:

      (1) Children in child care learn and develop skills they need to succeed in school and in life. Child care is also fundamental to helping families get ahead by giving parents the support and peace of mind they need to be productive at work.

      (2) Child care teachers and providers carry the responsibility of providing a safe, nurturing, and stimulating setting for children entrusted to them each day.

      (3) In 2010, the average wage for a child care worker was $10.15 per hour or $21,110 annually. For full-time, full-year work this is only slightly above the 2010 poverty guidelines of $18,310 for a mother with 2 children.

      (4) As a result of low wages and limited benefits, many child care providers do not work for long periods in the child care field. Only 65 percent of those employed in the child care field in 2005 were still working in child care in 2006. Such high turnover rates deny children consistent and stable relationships with their teachers.

      (5) Current reimbursement rates for child care providers receiving Federal funds are insufficient to recruit and retain qualified child care providers and to ensure high quality early care and education services for children.

      (6) Research shows that high-quality child care helps low-income children enter school ready to succeed. One study found that children who had enrolled in high-quality child care demonstrated greater mathematical ability and thinking and attention skills, and experienced fewer behavior problems than other children in second grade. Effects were particularly strong for low-income children.

      (7) In 2009, 11,700,000 children under age 6 (46 percent) lived in low-income families (families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty).

      (8) Only about 1 in 6 eligible children receives Federal child care assistance.

      (9) Many women work in low-wage jobs and cannot cover the cost of child care. For example, two-thirds of working poor families headed by single mothers who paid for child care spent at least 40 percent of their cash income on child care.

      (10) Problems with child care can make it difficult for parents, particularly low-income parents, to work, causing them to lose wages, be denied a promotion, or lose their jobs.

      (11) Research shows that single mothers and former welfare recipients who received child care assistance were much more likely to remain employed after 2 years than those who did not receive child care assistance.

    (b) Purpose- The purpose of this Act is to improve--

      (1) access to high quality early learning and child care for low-income children and working families; and

      (2) the quality of child care and the number of high quality child care providers.

SEC. 3. AMENDMENTS TO THE CHILD CARE AND DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT ACT OF 1990.

    (a) Authorization of Appropriations- Section 658B of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 9858) is amended--

      (1) by striking `is' and inserting `are'; and

      (2) by striking `subchapter' and all that follows and inserting `subchapter such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2012 through 2016.'.

    (b) Application and Plan- Section 658E(c) of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 9858c(c)) is amended--

      (1) in paragraph (2)--

        (A) in subparagraph (E)--

          (i) redesignating clause (ii) as clause (iii); and

          (ii) by inserting after clause (i), the following:

          `(ii) SITE VISITS- Certify that the State has in effect licensing requirements applicable to child care providers within the State that include one annual announced and one annual unannounced visit to each site at which the provider provides child care services. Nothing in the preceding sentence shall be construed to require that licensing requirements be applied to specific types of providers of child care services.

          `(iii) TRAINING- Certify that the State has in effect licensing or registration requirements applicable to child care providers within the State that require, within 3 years of the date of enactment of the Starting Early Starting Right Act, that every lead teacher or aide of the provider, and each family child care provider--

            `(I) have at least 40 hours of appropriate health, safety, and child development training prior to their employment with or operation as a provider (as determined in accordance with guidelines to be issued by the Secretary); and

            `(II) have at least 24 hours of annual training in appropriate health, safety, and child development training (as determined in accordance with guidelines to be issued by the Secretary).

          `(iv) OTHER TRAINING- Certify that the State has a plan to implement, within 3 years of the date of enactment of the Starting Early Starting Right Act, pre- and in-service training requirements applicable to child care providers that provide services for which assistance is made available under this subchapter.

          `(v) TRAINING FOR LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT (LEP) PROVIDERS- Certify that the State has a plan to provide for the training of child care service providers with limited-English-proficiency to provide high-quality child care services.';

        (B) in subparagraph (H)--

          (i) by striking `Demonstrate the manner' and inserting the following:

          `(i) IN GENERAL- Demonstrate the manner'; and

          (ii) by adding at the end the following:

          `(iii) SPECIFIC NEEDS- Demonstrate the manner in which the State will meet the specific child care needs of low-income and working families, including--

            `(I) the outreach strategies to be used to reach hard-to-serve children, including low-income children, English language learners, children with special needs, and children in rural areas;

            `(II) the use of contracts with child care centers, family child care homes, and organizations that manage and support family child care networks to reach hard-to-serve children and underserved communities;

            `(III) the use of pilot or demonstration projects to increase the supply of high quality child care in underserved communities;

            `(IV) the use of pilot or demonstration projects that demonstrate effective techniques and approaches of specialized training for child care service providers with limited-English-proficiency to improve their ability to provide high-quality child care services; and

            `(V) the use of pilot or demonstration projects that demonstrate effective techniques and approaches of specialized training for child care providers working with children with developmental disabilities.'; and

        (C) by adding at the end the following:

        `(I) CONTINUOUS CARE- Demonstrate how the State is implementing practices and procedures to help ensure that children receive continuous care from the same provider, including through--

          `(i) the use of contracts with child care centers, family child care homes, and organizations that manage and support family child care networks for underserved populations;

          `(ii) extending periods of redetermination for all families to 1 year;

          `(iii) extending periods of job search eligibility; and

          `(iv) informing families and providers that eligibility is ending in a timely manner and in multiple formats.'; and

      (2) in paragraph (4)--

        (A) by redesignating subparagraph (B) as subparagraph (D); and

        (B) by inserting after subparagraph (A), the following:

        `(B) IN GENERAL- The State plan shall provide information demonstrating that the State is ensuring that payment rates for the provision of child care services for which assistance is provided under this subchapter are equal to or exceed the 75th percentile of the current market rate for all types of child care, based on a research-based market rate survey that includes variations for geography, age of children, and provider type.

        `(C) CHILD CARE FOR SPECIAL POPULATIONS- The State plan shall describe efforts to address the need for child care for special populations, including care in low-income and rural areas, care for infants and toddlers, care for children with special needs, care for other populations, and care during nonstandard hours, such as paying rates for the provision of child care services for which assistance is provided under this subchapter that exceed the 75th percentile of a current market rate for all types of care (based on the survey under subparagraph (B).'.

    (c) Activities To Improve the Quality of Child Care- Section 658G of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 9858e) is amended to read as follows:

`SEC. 658G. ACTIVITIES TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF CHILD CARE.

    `(a) In General- A State that receives funding to carry out this subchapter for a fiscal year, shall use not less than 15 percent of the amount of such funds for activities that are designed to improve the quality of child care, including the implementation of 1 or more of the following:

      `(1) Developing and implementing a Quality Rating and Improvement System (referred to in this section as the `QRIS') for child care centers and family child care homes, including criteria appropriate for each age group eligible for assistance under this subchapter with levels that lead to nationally recognized high standards.

      `(2) Providing assistance for education, training, and compensation initiatives to assist child care providers in meeting and maintaining the criteria for achieving progressively higher rating levels under the QRIS.

      `(3) Providing grants and other types of assistance, including mentoring, to assist child care providers in meeting and maintaining the criteria for achieving progressively higher rating levels under the QRIS.

      `(4) Maintaining a Statewide network of child care resource and referral programs.

      `(5) Inspecting and monitoring child care programs.

      `(6) Providing grants to assist child care providers, including those who are limited-English-proficient, in becoming licensed or regulated and in meeting pre-service and ongoing training requirements.

      `(7) Offering other assistance to child care providers to strengthen the quality of child care, including support for education and training initiatives tied to compensation.

      `(8) Providing grants to assist child care providers who are not required to be licensed or registered in receiving appropriate training and support.

      `(9) Developing and implementing technological resources to assist low-income families in applying for child care assistance as well as to educate families concerning the range of and quality ratings of various child care providers.

    `(b) Extension for Full-Day Care- A State that receives funding to carry out this subchapter for a fiscal year, shall use not less than 5 percent of the amount of such funds for activities that are designed to fund activities to extend the day or year for those children who are eligible for child care services and attend part-day or year programs.

    `(c) High Quality Care for Infants and Toddlers- A State that receives funding to carry out this subchapter for a fiscal year, shall use not less than 30 percent of the amount of such funds for activities that are designed to fund initiatives to improve the quality and expand the availability of high quality care for infants and toddlers.'.

    (d) Reporting Requirements- Section 658K(a) of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 9858i(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

      `(3) BI-ANNUAL REPORTS- Not later than December 31, 2011, and every 2 years thereafter, a State that operates a Quality Rating and Improvement System (referred to in this section as the `QRIS') shall prepare and submit to the Secretary a report that includes aggregate data concerning--

        `(A) the number of licensed center and family child care providers in the State;

        `(B) the number of child care providers in each level of the State QRIS, listed by type, race and ethnicity, geographic area of the State, and number of children that each such provider is licensed to serve;

        `(C) the disaggregated number and percentages of children receiving child care assistance under this subchapter in each level of the State QRIS;

        `(D) whether any change occurred in the number and percentage of child care providers in each level of the State QRIS, listed by type, geographic area of the State, and number of children each such provider is licensed to serve;

        `(E) the disaggregated number and percentage of children receiving child care assistance under this subchapter who are receiving care from child care providers in a higher quality level (as determined under the State QRIS) as compared to the previous 12-month period;

        `(F) the disaggregated number of child care providers in low-income communities who have moved up to a higher quality level of child care (as determined under the State QRIS) as compared to the previous 12-month period; and

        `(G) the average child care reimbursement rate under this subchapter at each level of the State QRIS, listed by provider type, race and ethnicity, and geographic area of the State.

      `(4) 5-year REPORT- Not later than December 31, 2016, and every 5 years thereafter, a State described in paragraph (1)(A) shall prepare and submit to the Secretary a report that includes aggregate data concerning the average individual compensation paid for each of the following in all licensed child care programs, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, credentials, and program type in the State:

        `(A) Lead teacher.

        `(B) Classroom assistant or aide.

        `(C) Family child care provider.

        `(D) Family child care assistant.'.

END