By Beth Hess, Managing Director, Policy
The federal government is attempting to respond to the child care crisis impacting families in Ohio and across the country. The Federal Administration for Children and Families announced in July a proposed rule designed to lower child care costs, increase families’ child care options, improve child care provider payment rates and practices, and make enrollment easier and faster.
The proposed rule offers many improvements to the publicly funded child care system including:
Capping co-payments for families at 7%.
Providing more flexibility to states in waiving co-payments for families meeting certain criteria.
Requiring states to provide more responsive consumer education.
Presuming family eligibility for three months.
Building child care supply through requiring states to guarantee child care slots in selected programs using grants and contracts.
Allowing child care providers to collect the full state payment rate, regardless of what they can charge private pay families.
Aligning state payment processes to the private pay market (for example, paying providers on enrollment instead of by attendance).
The policy improvements included in the proposed rule reflect positive steps forward that child care advocates have been vocal about for many years. These policy improvements also align with several of the recommendations of the final report from Ohio’s Legislative Study Committee on Publicly Funded Child Care and Step Up to Quality.
In response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Groundwork Ohio partnered with child care stakeholders to offer insights into how the proposed rules will benefit Ohio. Additionally, Groundwork’s comments addressed the financial hurdles Ohio will face to implement these new rules, requesting additional funds to meet the new expectations.