History and Purposes of CCDBG and CCDF

The history of CCDBG and rules to administer the program date back to 1990. Funding was first authorized under the CCDBG Act of 1990, which was enacted under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) appropriated new entitlement child care funds under section 418 of the Social Security Act and reauthorized discretionary funding under the CCDBG Act of 1990.

PRWORA required that entitlement child care funds be transferred to a state or tribal Lead Agency for CCDBG and be administered by that agency using the provisions of the CCDBG Act. PRWORA consolidated three federal child care programs previously serving low-income families under the program formerly known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) named these combined funds CCDF. [1]

The first regulations governing CCDBG went into effect on August 4, 1992. ACF published regulations that established the CCDF program in 1998. These rules, implementing the child care provisions of PRWORA, went into effect August 24, 1998.

The CCDBG Act was reauthorized in November 2014. The reauthorization enhanced the statutory purposes of the CCDF program to better balance the dual purposes of promoting children’s healthy development and school success, and support parents who are working or in training or education. The stated purposes of the act are as follows: [2]

  1. To allow each state maximum flexibility in developing child care programs and policies that best suit the needs of children and parents within that state;

  2. To promote parental choice to empower working parents to make their own decisions regarding the child care services that best suits their family’s needs;

  3. To encourage states to provide consumer education information to help parents make informed choices about child care services and to promote involvement by parents and family members in the development of their children in child care settings;

  4. To assist states in delivering high-quality, coordinated early childhood care and education services to maximize parents’ options and support parents trying to achieve independence from public assistance;

  5. To assist states in improving the overall quality of child care services and programs by implementing the health, safety, licensing, training, and oversight standards established in this subchapter [Subchapter II-B - Child Care and Development Block Grant (Sections 9857 - 9858r)] and in state law (including state regulations);

  6. To improve child care and development of participating children; and

  7. To increase the number and percentage of low-income children in high-quality child care settings.

As you think about implementing these purposes, consider these questions addressed in the Office of Child Care’s CCDF Final Rule Frequently Asked Questions: [3]

How do the regulations make child care more healthy, safe, and high quality?

Based on the law, these regulations establish minimum standards, training, and monitoring requirements to ensure that child care for children receiving CCDF financial assistance protects their health and safety.

There are also several provisions to improve child care settings for all children across the country. For example, the law requires that all states use the same set of comprehensive background checks for all child care teachers and staff. In addition, states must develop professional development systems to improve the knowledge and skills of the individual teacher and staff working with children in child care. Finally, the law targets funding for investments in improving quality of child care, including a percentage specifically for care of infants and toddlers.

How do the law and regulations support child development and school readiness?

Improving the development and school readiness of participating children is now a key purpose of the CCDBG Act. The law requires states and territories to have professional development systems that can help those working with young children promote their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development, and to address behavioral challenges. There are also new requirements to help parents make informed consumer choices and access information to support their children’s development. The law requires states to collect and publicly share information on child development, family engagement, developmental screenings for young children, and quality child care with parents, providers, and the public.

How do the law and regulations help working, low-income parents achieve financial stability?

Congress added requirements that will provide more stable child care financial assistance to families on their path to financial stability, including extending children’s eligibility for child care regardless of temporary changes in parent’s earnings and work, training, or school schedules. This improvement will make it easier for parents to maintain employment or finish education programs and not worry about losing their safe and high-quality child care. The law also requires that states and territories not unduly disrupt parents’ employment in order to maintain their eligibility, and adopt processes that take into account irregular fluctuations in earnings.


[1] Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Program, 81 Fed. Reg. 67,438, 67,442 (Sept. 30, 2016) (codified at 45 C.F.R. pt. 98).

[2] 42 U.S.C. § 9857(b) (2015).

[3] 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