24 Sep The U.S. government sets new standards for federal child care program
The Obama administration set new guidelines for the federal child care subsidy program on Friday, requiring state governments to run criminal background checks on teachers as well as conduct annual inspections at child care centers.
The news was first reported by U.S. News. The current system for checking educators’ background is a mashup of state laws and procedures, inconsistent practices by school districts and state officials, as well as various standards in who’s responsible for what and how accountable they are, according to USA Today.
The new standards came hot on the heels of President Obama signing a sweeping update to the Child Care Development Block Grant, a federal program that provides subsidies to working families for child care. The federal government provided more than $5 billion to states through the Block Grant last year, helping about 850,000 families pay for child care, as long as they were working, looking for work or enrolled in an employment training program, according to U.S. News. Block Grant serves nearly 1.4 million poor children with the majority being under the age of 5.
New rules aside, government officials also called on Congress to prioritize legislation that would provide more financial resources for educators. For the time being, nearly half of child care workers are enrolled in at least one of the following public support programs: Medicaid, food stamps, welfare or the federal earned income tax credit.