Child Care Assistance
CCDF provides child care assistance to low-income families and is designed to increase the quality and supply of child care for all families. Families receiving subsidized child care often must pay part of the total cost. In fiscal year 2010, 998,000 families and 1.694 million children received assistance from CCDF in an average month.
CCDF is not an entitlement; the federal government does not guarantee funding to provide child care assistance to all eligible families.
CCDF has three funding streams: discretionary funds, mandatory funds, and matching funds. Discretionary funds are appropriated by Congress each year. States are also allowed to transfer up to 30 percent of their cash assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds to CCDF, where they are treated as discretionary funding.
State rules determine who qualifies for and receives child care assistance. States establish a wide range of policies within broad federal guidelines. They may set income limits lower than the maximum amount under federal guidelines, establish age limits lower than those outlined in the federal requirements, and define parent activities and protective services in different ways. In addition, states set policies for application procedures, priority and waiting lists, redetermination, family payments (copayments), provider reimbursement rates, and other provider policies. Some states allow local areas to establish their own policies within the federal guidelines and additional state requirements.
Total CCDF spending in fiscal year 2010 (including spending from past appropriation years) was $9.473 billion. Of that total, 79 percent went to direct child care services, 12.5 percent to quality activities, 3 percent to administrative activities, and 7 percent to non-direct services.