The CCDF Program
CCDF is the primary federal funding source devoted to families with low incomes who are working or participating in education and training by helping them pay for child care and improving the quality of child care for all children. Approximately 1.4 million children younger than 13 years from approximately 857,700 low-income working families are served by CCDF each month. This support enables their parents to work and participate in education or training to improve their job prospects. In addition, CCDF funds support state and Tribal initiatives to improve the quality of child care for all children in our nation. 
The CCDBG Act authorizes the CCDF program and includes authorized funding amounts for each fiscal year. The actual amount of CCDF discretionary funding provided for each fiscal year is determined through the annual appropriations process, and may be more or less than the amount indicated in the law. Therefore, while the law authorizes an increase in CCDF funding over time, Congress will determine actual funding levels for each fiscal year.
The CCDF child care program is often described as comprising three broad and overlapping areas of services:
Child care financial assistance (subsidy)
Health and safety
Quality improvement activities
Subsidized child care services are available to eligible families through certificates or grants and contracts with child care providers. States provide access to information about child care financial assistance in many ways, including during enrollment for other public assistance (such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF]), online, at community and health events, through child care providers, and through child care resource and referral agencies (CCR&R).
The Child Care and Development Fund is complex, with many interrelated components. Related content is available in Provide Stable Child Care Financial Assistance to Families and Ensure Equal Access to Child Care for Low-Income Children.
Parents may select a child care provider that satisfies any applicable state or local requirements, including basic health and safety requirements. These requirements must address prevention and control of infectious diseases, including immunizations; building and physical premises safety; and minimum health and safety training (as established in the CCDBG Act and CCDF final rule). States may also require that the provider participates in the state quality rating and improvement system or other quality improvement activities, as long as the requirement does not limit the types of providers available to families.  For information about child care health and safety, go to Establish Standards and Monitoring Processes to Ensure the Health and Safety of Child Care Settings.
One of the key goals of CCDF is to help more children from low-income families access higher-quality care. Lead Agencies have the flexibility to consider their goals and strategic plans for a child care quality improvement system for all families, not just those receiving assistance under CCDF. States are required to reserve and use identified percentages of their CCDF allocations for activities that are designed to improve the quality of child care services and increase parental options for, and access to, high-quality child care. For information about child care quality improvement, go to Support Continuous Quality Improvement.
 Office of Child Care. (2016). Child Care and Development Fund final rule frequently asked questions. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/faq/child-care-and-development-fund-final-rule-frequently-asked-questions.
 CCDBG Act of 2014 658G(b)(3).