Tribal Allocations

Through the CCDBG Act, American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) grantees will receive no less than 2 percent of discretionary CCDF funding and up to 2 percent of mandatory CCDF funding. More than 500 federally recognized Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and a Native Hawaiian organization access these CCDF funds directly or through consortium arrangements.

Tribal Grantee Allocations

  • Large: Receives more than $1 million in funding
  • Medium: Receives between $250,000 and $1 million
  • Small: Receives less than $250,000

The CCDF final rule recognizes that tribes receiving smaller CCDF grants may not have sufficient resources or infrastructure to effectively operate a program that complies with all CCDF requirements. Therefore, the final rule laid out three categories of tribal CCDF grants, with thresholds established by the HHS Secretary: large allocations, medium allocations, and small allocations. Each category is paired with different levels of CCDF requirements, with tribes receiving the largest allocations expected to meet most CCDF requirements. To account for the size of the grant awards, tribes receiving smaller allocations are exempt from specific provisions.

The main distinctions between requirements for each tribal grantee category are outlined below. This high-level overview is not inclusive. Refer to the final rule for more details on requirements for tribes and tribal organizations.

According to the final rule, large-allocation grantees (receiving more than $1 million in funding) are

  • subject to the majority of CCDF requirements;
  • exempt from some requirements, including, but not limited to, the consumer education website, the requirement to have licensing for child care services, the market rate survey or ACF pre-approved alternative methodology (though they are still required to have rates that support quality), and the training and professional development framework;
  • subject to the monitoring requirements, but allowed the flexibility to propose an alternative monitoring methodology in their Plans; and
  • subject to the background check requirements, but allowed to propose an alternative background check approach in their Plans.

Medium-allocation grantees (with funding levels between $250,000 and $1 million) are

  • allowed the same exemptions as the large allocation category, and
  • exempt from operating a certificate program.

Small-allocation grantees (with funding levels below $250,000) are exempt from the majority of CCDF requirements, including the exemptions for large- and medium-allocation categories.

  • Small-allocation grantees must spend their funds in alignment with CCDF goals and purposes.
  • These grantees will submit an abbreviated CCDF Plan.
  • They are subject to
    • the health and safety requirements;
    • the monitoring requirements;
    • the background check requirements;
    • the quality spending requirements (except the infant and toddler quality spending requirements);
    • the eligibility definitions of Indian child and Indian reservation and service area;
    • the 15 percent administrative cap;
    • the fiscal, audit, and reporting requirements; and
    • any other requirement defined by the Secretary of HHS.

The CCDBG Act reaffirmed tribes’ ability to request to use CCDF funds for construction or renovation purposes. The Act continues to disallow the use of CCDF funds for construction or renovation if the work will result in a decrease in the level of child care services. However, the Act now allows for a waiver for this clause if the decrease in child care services is temporary. Tribes are also required to submit a plan to the Administration for Children and Families demonstrating that the level of child care services will increase or the quality of child care services will improve after the construction or renovation is completed. [1]

Some states have associations or organizations that bring AI/AN CCDF Administrators together. The National Indian Child Care Association (NICCA) is also a good resource for AI/AN CCDF Administrators. NICCA is a national organization whose mission is “to promote high quality culturally relevant child care and development and to unify tribes and tribal organizations by providing leadership, support and advocacy on behalf of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.” [2]

The CCDF regulations provide significant flexibility for tribes to design and administer their programs to best address the unique needs of their communities. In addition, the law and regulations assure that AI/AN children are not excluded from state CCDF services as a result of their eligibility for tribal CCDF services.

The CCDBG Act asserts that, for child care services funded by CCDF, the eligibility of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children for a tribal program does not affect their eligibility for a state program. This is referred to as dual eligibility. To receive services under a program, the child must still meet other specific eligibility criteria of that program. The CCDBG Act does not allow a state to have a blanket policy making American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children ineligible for the state’s child care program.


[1] CCDBG Act of 2014 658O(c)(6); Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. § 98.12(c) (2016).

[2] National Indian Child Care Association. About us