WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 13, 2014) — The United States Senate on Thursday passed the bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, to include legislation of U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI-D) for Native Hawaiian children.
The bill updates and improves the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program created in 1990, which provides states with federal funding to help low-income families afford child care while working or in job training programs.
“More than 9,000 children in Hawaii are able to attend child care programs thanks to the federal Child Care and Development Fund,” said Hirono. “Today’s bipartisan bill strengthens safety and program quality to better focus on the healthy development of our keiki. The additional measures added to the bill will ensure that Native Hawaiian child care programs such as Alu Like and Keiki o Ka Aina will continue to receive the resources they need to best serve children and working families across our state.”
After discovering that the bill passed by Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) omitted Native Hawaiians from some of the bill’s quality improvements, Hirono partnered with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to send a letter to HELP Committee leaders proposing changes that guaranteed their inclusion.
Hirono’s language was adopted into the final legislation after being endorsed by organizations including the National Indian Child Care Association, National Congress of American Indians and National Indian Education Association. The Native Hawaiian Education Council also submitted a letter of support for Hirono’s changes to the bill.
“The funding made available through the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act is necessary to help low- and moderate-income families to move out of poverty through employment and education while their children receive quality care that is safe and supportive. Mahalo to Senators Hirono and Murkowski for working to include Native Hawaiians in this legislation, recognizing the unique trust relationship between the federal government and Native Hawaiian communities,” said Wendy Roylo-Hee, Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Education Council.
The Senate also passed an amendment to increase funding for Native and tribal child care organizations, including Native Hawaiian organizations. The amendment by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), cosponsored by Senators Hirono and Murkowski, increases current Native organization funding from “not more than 2 percent” to “not less than 2 percent” of total CCDBG federal funds.
Overall, the CCDBG Act of 2014 makes several improvements to the current child care law, including:
• Greater coordination across programs: Requires states to coordinate with existing early education programs, special education and Native Hawaiian organizations.
• Comprehensive background checks: • Requires comprehensive background checks for all child care providers receiving federal funds, including state criminal and sex-offender registries and state-based abuse and neglect registries.
• Increased access to consumer information for parents: Shares information on quality child care options, how families can access key resources and posts the results of health and safety inspections online.
• Health and safety training: Calls for child care providers to undergo training in First Aid and CPR, prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and child abuse prevention.
• Better training for providers: Helps provide increased professional development, including child care college coursework or credentials.