Build Back Better Plan Frequently Asked Questions
The Build Back Better Plan is legislation being considered in Congress, that among other things seeks to transform the way we experience child care in this country.
It started as a proposal from the Administration that was called the American Families Plan. But truly, it started with you, and with families across the U.S. who were struggling with real challenges: not enough child care choices, a declining availability of family child care, child care costing more than housing or college for too many families, and the need to invest in the child care workforce so that you can thrive.
It took a pandemic to really help enough Members of Congress understand that the way child care currently works in America doesn’t work for anyone. NAFCC heard from our members that our policy advocacy priorities in 2020 and 2021 needed to include child care relief funds, equity in that recovery, and then a much better way forward that invests in and values family child care.
Negotiations in Congress have not been easy. The details of the vision are crucial, and also the drafts of legislation continue to change!
The legislation is sometimes not as detailed as we might want, and this is sometimes because of the process that they’re using (called Reconciliation).
This is an ever-changing situation. Our summaries and this Q&A are based on our analysis and on the understanding of the intent of the writers of the legislation.
1. What on earth is this?
The new idea is this:
- Make more families eligible for support to access child care, ensure those families get that support, and invest in the people and the work of child care at the same time so that we move from a system that works for no one, to a system that works for everyone who needs it.
- Make preK for 3- and 4-year-olds universal and invest in child care centers, family child care homes, Head Start and schools to make this possible. Mixed delivery in this vision doesn’t start with the schools or end with the schools; it is built on equitable distribution across eligible providers, including family child care.
2. Why is NAFCC supporting this?
So here we are, with an opportunity like nothing we’ve ever seen: a chance to invest significant dollars — more than we have ever had available to the early childhood field —so that families and the child care workforce can thrive. Our advocacy continues to be about:
- making sure Congress plays its important role in helping to solve child care, and
- getting the details right for family child care.
NAFCC is a private, nonpartisan organization. We advocate for the field of family child care, led by the membership and their priorities and experiences. National polling reveals that the work to change the way child care works in this country has bipartisan support among voters. Partisanship runs strong in Washington, D.C. but NAFCC advocates for the field with leaders regardless of their party. We want all decision-makers to do their part for the success of family child care.
3. Is this additional dollars to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)?
This is not funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) law. This also does not change the CCDBG law. The CCDBG law will continue to exist and be carried out in each state.
4. Is the federal government going to tell me how to run my program?
The Build Back Better plan calls for big changes to the way child care can happen in this country. There are many questions and ideas to sort out – and some myths going around too. Check out this piece addressing some of those myths, including the idea of the government’s role inside your child care programs (also a myth!)
5. They’re saying parents won’t pay more than 7% of their income on child care. But I set my rates?
This is a whole new way of thinking about how we pay for the work of child care in this country. The idea is the family pays a portion (up to 7% of their income — maximum — but much less for many families) and we could think about this like a co-pay. The state pays the child care provider (including family child care providers) based on actual operating costs – costs of your operations, your quality efforts and paying yourself. Not, as is the norm now, on the “market rate” or a made-up amount.
6. Will I have to meet standards? Will those standards be right for family child care?
Eligible providers in the child care entitlement are licensed and in a “tiered system for measuring quality,” specifically including family child care providers with acknowledgment of mixed ages and setting types. This may mean your state will need to revise an existing quality rating and improvement system. Lots more on this coming soon!
There’s more attention for child care licensing than we’ve ever seen too – a call to create appropriate standards and pathways to succeed in those regulations too.
The preK investments will come with an expectation of meeting standards as well, aligned to the Early Learning Standards used in Head Start.
Every day, family child care providers are carrying out policies set at the local, state and federal level. We have lots of questions too, and there are lots of opportunities to keep shaping this even outside of the federal legislation. There will be federal guidance and regulations, and state plans and choices too.
7. Will I have to get a bachelor’s degree?
In the preK section of the legislation, it calls for preK teachers in each setting to have a B.A. degree with six years’ time to get it. Importantly, the authors know to value the strengths of the existing workforce and note that if a teacher at an eligible provider (including family child care) has been in the field for 3 of the last 5 years and has the “necessary content knowledge and teaching skills for early childhood educators,” they will not be required to meet the B.A. requirement. We do not know how this necessary content knowledge and skills will be measured, and getting this right is important.
The child care entitlement section of the legislation does not call for a B.A. degree. It does not name degrees or credentials but rather calls for eligibility through state licensing and participation in a “tiered system of quality.”
8. What is an entitlement? What does that mean?
Congress is creating a new entitlement. An entitlement is a federal program or provision of law that requires payments to any person that meets the eligibility requirement. Simply put, it will be there for families that are eligible.
9. More families will be eligible and served – what does that mean? How will I find families?
Right now, you might be in a state where lots of families are eligible for subsidy but hundreds or thousands of them are on a subsidy waiting list managed by your state or county. Build Back Better says: if a family with a child under 6 is eligible for support, they will receive that support. This is a huge expansion that will be meaningful to far more families. The new eligibility rules will mean some 9 out of 10 children will be served over the next 6 years (eligibility expands some more each year from FY2022 through FY2025), instead of the 1 out of 6 served now in subsidy.
10. Public funding for preK has really hurt child care in my state because they don’t recognize that I’m an expert too, and children are learning in my program.
Eligible preK providers are school districts, Head Start, licensed child care centers, licensed family child care homes, family child care networks, or consortiums of these eligible providers.
The bill calls for states to “distribute new preschool slots equitably among child care (including family child care) providers, Head Start agencies, and schools within the state.” The preK investment does not start with the schools in the legislation.
The bill requires states to assure that the preK investments and implementation do not disrupt child care options for infants and toddlers.
The funding would be in the form of grants to the provider, to cover the full costs of operations for at least 3 years.
11. I’m worried my governor won’t apply.
States can choose whether to participate in this new investment. The governor will decide to participate in the child care entitlement funding, the preK funding, or neither one, one or the other, or both. Here are some scenarios:
- If the governor chooses to participate in the child care entitlement funding, CCDBG law will still be in place but with a different focus of the funding: children 6 and up (school-age child care).
- If the governor chooses to not participate, three things will be there: existing CCDBG law, new/additional Head Start funding, and the option for a locality to apply to be a part of this.
- If the governor chooses to participate in the preK funding, and your state has state-funded preK already, the state will need to work toward making the existing program meet these new expectations of inclusivity of families, providers, and quality.
- If the governor chooses to not participate in the preK funding, there will be new/additional Head Start funding, and the option for a locality to apply to be a part of this.
12. What can I do right now to help move this forward? And how can I ensure FCC is at the table?
As we work with Members of Congress and partners, and await news of votes being scheduled in the U.S. Senate, one of the best things you can do right now is help family child care to be seen.
You can find additional action tools here (link to take action area).https://nafcc.org/our-work/public-policy-and-advocacy/take-action/
Another thing you can do is ensure your membership is current in your local or state Family Child Care Association and NAFCC! It will take all of us to ensure family child care can thrive and association strength is about its members.
13. If all these families are going to need child care, where will they go? I know in my area there simply aren’t enough child care providers or spaces in child care programs.
The supply-building funding includes start-up funding, facilities funding (including for family child care) and support to improve or sustain quality.
14. I have a lot of worries about implementation. Family child care has been left out so many times, I’ve been left out so many times.
The bill has a lot of safeguards, but also leaves a lot of questions for how states will choose different things. Lots of us have these questions! We don’t know exactly what everything will look like – but your experience will inform this in each state!
15. What about school age children?
The Build Back Better child care provisions focus on children from infants through age 5. Families who need assistance affording school age child care will still have the option, if they are income-eligible, for child care subsidy through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) which can be used through age 12. And, in states that opt into the BBB child care entitlement, that could help ensure more of their CCDBG funds are available for school age child care because many more families with children 0-5 will be eligible for the new entitlement program instead of CCDBG funds. These families will have choices for arrangements that include family child care programs that meet their needs before and after school, in the summer and on other school breaks.
16. If my governor applies for the child care funding, how much funding should my state expect to receive for the child care services?
The child care part of Build Back Better calls for $100 billion distributed to states, territories and tribes in the first three years according to a formula, and then in the years after shifts to serving as many eligible children and families that participate in the program. Thanks to our friends at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) for creating this handy resource of state-by-state estimates based on the formula for the first three years of federal funding.
17. Is the bill text final?
No! Not really. The U.S. House passed Build Back Better legislation in November. The U.S. Senate is working in December on this, which may include many changes to content. This might be because Senators have ideas for changes (and advocates have ideas too) and this might also be because of something called The Byrd Rule. Because they opted to use a process called Reconciliation, the Senate needs to also follow the rules of Reconciliation and the Senate Parliamentarian is the decider on this. Each committee that is involved in bill text needs to send their text to her for review. What she decides line by line may mean some content adjustments need to be made. So, what we’ve seen passed by the House may indeed change in small or large ways.
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