ACF-118: CCDF Plan, Implementation Timeline, and Amendment Process

The CCDBG Act of 2014 brought about a number of changes, some of which are straightforward to implement, and others that are more complex and take time to put in place. The level of effort needed for implementation varies depending on the number of changes a state needs to make. Some states need time to enact changes through their state legislatures or rulemaking processes.

Submission and approval of the CCDF Plan is the primary mechanism by which the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) works with Lead Agencies to ensure that state programs meet federal requirements. The submitted and final CCDF Plan must be made publicly available on the Lead Agency’s website. Lead Agencies are required to hold at least one public hearing in the state or territory, with sufficient statewide or territory-wide distribution of notice prior to such a hearing to enable the public to comment on the provision of child care services under the CCDF Plan.

Implementation Timeline

The CCDF Plan (form ACF-118) is written and approved on a triennial basis; each Plan covers a 3-year timeframe from the fiscal year it is initially approved. The CCDF Plan serves as the application for CCDF funds by providing a description of, and assurance about, the Lead Agency’s child care program and all services available to eligible families.

The Office of Child Care (OCC) partners with states to support and monitor the successful and timely implementation of all provisions of the CCDBG Act. States will need to review their Plans in conjunction with the final rule and work with their regional offices to ensure that they are on track.

As a part of the monitoring process, OCC conducts onsite visits with Lead Agencies to assess compliance with the CCDF requirements. Regional office staff have a primary role in the visits. The priority areas for monitoring are as follows:

  1. Disaster preparedness
  2. Consumer education
  3. Twelve-month eligibility
  4. Child ratios and group size
  5. Health and safety training (11 topics) plus child development training
  6. Health and safety preservice and ongoing provider training
  7. Annual inspections for licensed providers
  8. Inspections for license-exempt providers
  9. Ratios for licensing inspectors
  10. Child abuse and neglect reporting
  11. Program integrity and accountability

Lead Agency monitoring consists of a variety of activities including the Lead Agency submitting documents to the Regional Office prior to the visit, a multi-day on-site visit, follow-up phone calls along with possible additional documentation being submitted. The Lead Agency will receive a Monitoring Letter and Report which serves as the notice of the results from the monitoring, including any areas that the monitoring team identified as being unmet. The Lead Agency has 60 days (or longer if necessary) to develop a response including how the state will come in to compliance with areas determined to be noncompliant.

Amendment Process

Any substantial change to the CCDF program requires an amendment to the approved CCDF Plan pursuant to 45 C.F.R. 98.18(b) of CCDF regulations. Before amending the ACF-118 Plan, Lead Agencies must first contact the regional office to discuss any proposed modifications. The regional office can assist in determining the need for the amendment as well as providing guidance on the information needed to complete the amendment.

As a reminder, amendments to the CCDF Plan, and any approved request for temporary relief (i.e., waivers) have to be made publicly available on the Lead Agency website. [1] In addition, the Lead Agency must provide advance written notice to affected parties of changes that adversely affect income eligibility, payment rates, or fees.

ACF encourages Lead Agencies to formally submit any Plan amendment before implementing the change to avoid the possibility of implementing a policy that fails to meet federal requirements (in which case the amendment cannot be approved). If prior submission is not possible, the Lead Agency must submit the Plan amendment within 60 days of the effective date of the change. In no case will ACF approve an effective date that is more than 60 days before the submission of a Plan amendment. Lead Agencies will use the CCDF ACF-118 Plan submission website to submit Plan amendments.

ACF will make determinations on amendments no later than 90 days after the date the amendment is received, unless a written agreement to extend that period has been secured.

A few reminders on amendments to the CCDF Plan:

  • An amendment to the CCDF Plan is required if the Lead Agency changes or if the Lead Agency official changes.
  • A Plan amendment is required if the website address where the Plan is posted is changed.
  • Any changes made to the web links provided in Section 2.3: Consumer Education after the CCDF Plan is approved will require a CCDF Plan amendment.
  • An amendment is required if the Lead Agency’s consumer education website changes.
  • Lead Agencies must ensure advanced written notice is provided to impacted parties (meaning parents and child care providers) of substantial changes in the program that adversely affect eligibility, payment rates, and sliding fee scales. [2]

Resources: Amendment Process

Program Instruction CCDF-ACF-PI-2009-01, Approval of Plan Amendments, provides additional clarification regarding Plan amendments and is available on the Office of Child Care website.


The law allows the ACF to waive provisions or penalties in the law based on a state’s request identifying duplicative requirements preventing effective delivery of child care services, extraordinary circumstances, or the need for an extended period of time for a state legislature to enact legislation to implement the statute. The final rule delineates two types of waivers:[3]

  1. Transitional and legislative waivers are limited to a 1-year initial period with the option for a one-time 1-year renewal
  2. Waivers for extraordinary circumstances are limited to a 2-year initial period with the option for a one-time, 1-year renewal.

Waivers are subject to approval by the HHS Secretary. For a waiver to be considered, the state must demonstrate that the waiver will enhance the state’s ability to carry out the purposes of the CCDBG Act and will not contribute to inconsistencies with objectives of the Act. ACF may terminate a waiver if it determines that the performance of the state has been inadequate or that the waiver is no longer necessary to achieve its original purposes.

[1] Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. § 98.14(d) (2016).

[2] Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. § 98.18(b)(2) (2016).

[3] CCDBG Act of 2014 658I(c); Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. § 98.19 (2016).