Improving Access to Affordable, High Quality Child Care: Request for Information, 52507-52510 [2019-21530]

Download as PDF 52507 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 191 / Wednesday, October 2, 2019 / Notices (Center for States, Center for Tribes, and Center for Courts) funded by the Children’s Bureau to provide national child welfare expertise and evidenceinformed training and technical assistance services to state, tribal, and territorial public child welfare agencies and Court Improvement Programs (CIPs). The Centers offer a wide array of services including, but not limited to: Web-based content and resources, product development and dissemination, self-directed and groupbased training, virtual learning and peer networking events, and tailored consultation and coaching. During the project period, Center services are evaluated by both Center-specific evaluations and a Cross-Center Evaluation. The Center-specific evaluations are designed to collect data on Center-specific processes and outcomes, which are used to support service delivery and continuous quality improvement. The Cross-Center Evaluation is designed to respond to a set of cross-cutting evaluation questions posed by the Children’s Bureau, which examines: How and to what extent key partners across and within Centers collaborate; whether Center capacity building service interventions are evaluable; the degree to which Centers follow common protocols; what service interventions are delivered and which jurisdictions participate; how satisfied recipients are with services; what outcomes are achieved in jurisdictions receiving Center services and under what conditions are services effective; and what are the costs of services. The Cross-Center Evaluation uses a longitudinal, mixed methods approach to evaluate Center services as they develop and mature over the study period. Multiple data collection strategies are used to efficiently capture quantitative and qualitative data to enable analyses that address each evaluation question. Cross-Center Evaluation data sources for this effort for which an extension is being sought include: (1) A foundational assessment to capture contextual data regarding the organizational health and functioning of child welfare agencies and courts; (2) a workshop follow-up survey that examines short-term and intermediate outcomes among CIPs that receive different levels of tailored services following continuous quality improvement (CQI) workshops; and (3) a tailored services satisfaction survey. Center-specific data sources for this effort include: (1) Registration forms for webinar registration and CapLearn, a learning management system; and (2) service-specific feedback forms and interviews, such as the Center for States Tailored Services interview protocol, the Center for States Innovation survey, and the Center for Courts Universal and Constituency Services survey. Respondents: (1) Child welfare agency staff and stakeholders who receive services from the Centers; and (2) CIP coordinators, CIP Directors, and other project staff. ANNUAL BURDEN ESTIMATES Total number of respondents khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Instrument Annual number of respondents Number of responses per respondent Average burden hours per response Total annual burden hours Foundational Assessment Survey ....................................... CQI Workshop Follow-Up Survey ........................................ Tailored Services Satisfaction Survey ................................. CapLearn Registration ......................................................... Webinar Registration ........................................................... Center for Courts: Universal and Constituency Services .... Center for States: Tailored Services Interviews .................. Center for States: Assessment and Workplanning Survey Center for States: Innovation Survey .................................. 831 144 1,386 1,800 13,950 312 180 450 150 277 48 462 600 4,650 104 60 150 50 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 .1 .12 .083 .083 .03 .41 1 .25 .083 28 12 38 50 140 43 60 38 4 Total .............................................................................. ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 413 Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 413. Comments: The Department specifically requests comments on (a) whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Consideration will be given to comments and suggestions submitted within 60 days of this publication. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:42 Oct 01, 2019 Jkt 250001 Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5106. ACTION: Mary B. Jones, ACF/OPRE Certifying Officer. BILLING CODE 4184–01–P DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families [Docket No.: HHS–ACF–2019–0005] RIN 0970–ZA15 Improving Access to Affordable, High Quality Child Care: Request for Information Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services. PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 As part of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) commitment to supporting working families and promoting the healthy development and well-being of children, ACF is seeking input from the public and interested stakeholders on strategies to improve access to high quality, affordable child care in the U.S. Child care is one of the biggest expenses a family faces and can be a barrier to work. The average cost of center-based infant child care in 28 states is more than college tuition. At the same time, child care settings are a place of learning and education for children from the time they are infants and toddlers through their school-age years. Access to high quality learning opportunities lays the foundation for children’s development and, ultimately, SUMMARY: [FR Doc. 2019–21361 Filed 10–1–19; 8:45 am] AGENCY: Notice; request for information. E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 52508 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 191 / Wednesday, October 2, 2019 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES their success in school and in life. Unfortunately, many families do not have access to the affordable, high quality child care their children need. This Request for Information seeks public comment on: Identifying emerging and innovative practices to improve access to high quality child care, as well as identifying regulatory and other policies that unnecessarily drive up the cost of care or limit parents’ choice of different child care options; and identifying ways to improve funding of child care and other related early education programs to support quality and create a more streamlined, equitable, and sustainable financing framework for future generations. Information collected through this request may be used by ACF in the development of future rulemaking and technical assistance, formation of legislative proposals and research agendas, and/or strategic planning. DATES: Submit comments by December 2, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may send comments, identified by [docket number and/or RIN number], by either of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow instructions for sending comments. We prefer to receive comments via this method. • Mail: Office of Child Care, Attention: Request for Information, 330 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20201. Instructions: We urge you to submit comments electronically to ensure they are received in a timely manner. All submissions received must include our agency name and the docket number or Regulatory Information Number (RIN) for this notice. All comments will be posted without change to https:// www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. We accept anonymous comments. If you wish to remain anonymous, enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Williams, Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, 330 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20201; (202) 690–6782. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background ACF is focused on finding innovative solutions to improve working families’ access to affordable, high quality child care, as well as investigating how access to child care affects America’s workforce, present and future. Child care is one of the biggest expenses a family faces and can be a barrier to VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:42 Oct 01, 2019 Jkt 250001 work. The average cost of center-based infant child care in 28 states is more than college tuition.1 Evidence on the effects of child care costs on labor supply suggests that some parents, particularly women, would enter the labor force, or increase their work hours, if the cost of child care was lower.2 One study found that a 10 percent increase in child care costs is associated with a 7.4 percent decline in women’s labor force participation.3 The impact of child care challenges extends beyond families. Employee absences and turnover resulting from lack of reliable and affordable child care can cost employers, and impact overall economic development by reducing productivity and constricting the labor market.4 Policies that reduce the cost of child care could help maintain and bring more Americans into the workforce, increase opportunities for families, and ensure that strong economic growth is inclusive and sustained in the future. At the same time, there is concern about the quality of child care and ensuring that child care settings are a place of education that promote and enhance child and youth development and well-being. High quality child care is a critical investment that pays off now, for parents by enabling them to work, and later, by supporting children’s development and success in school and life. Research has shown that high quality learning environments are important for the cognitive, language, and social development of children,5 and that investments have the potential to generate economic returns in the long-run.6 State child care licensing and regulatory systems act as a foundation to ensure basic health and safety of child care settings, primarily based on structural and environmental factors. 1 ‘‘The US and the High Cost of Child Care,’’ Child Care Aware of America, 2018 Report. The term ‘‘states’’ includes the District of Columbia. 2 ‘‘Work and the Cost of Child Care,’’ Council of Economic Advisors, February 2019. 3 ‘‘How to Improve Economic Opportunity for Women,’’ Aparna Mathur and Abby McCloskey, American Enterprise Institute, June 2014. 4 ‘‘Lost Opportunities: The Impact of Inadequate Child Care on Indiana’s Workforce & Economy,’’ Laura Littlepage, Indiana University Public Policy Institute, June 2018; ‘‘Opportunities Lost: How Child Care Challenges Affect Georgia’s Workforce and Economy,’’ Hanah Goldberg, Tim Cairl, and Thomas J. Cunningham, Georgian Early Education Alliance for Ready Students and Metro Atlanta Chamber, 2018. 5 ‘‘Quality Thresholds, Features, and Dosage in Early Care and Education: Secondary Data Analyses of Child Outcomes,’’ Edited by: Margaret Burchinal, Martha Zaslow, and Louisa Tarullo, Society for Research in Child Development, June 2016. 6 ‘‘Quantifying the Life-cycle Benefits of a Prototypical Early Childhood Program,’’ Jorge Luis Garcia, James J. Heckman, Duncan Ermini Leaf, and Maria Jose Prados, May 2017. PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Many states have implemented quality rating and improvement systems with additional tiered requirements above those established by licensing and regulatory systems, in order to help child care providers strive toward higher quality care.7 The challenge ahead is making sure that standards of quality are dynamic and suited to different types of child care settings serving the full age and developmental range of children, so that parents continue to have choice, and quality standards are attainable by the full range of child care providers. Respecting the role that parents play in choosing the care that is best suited to their child’s needs, and their own values, culture, and work schedules (including non-traditional hours), is critical. One-size fits all directives on what constitutes high quality child care can be counter-productive if they effectively limit the number of child care providers left in the market from which parents can choose. The number of licensed, small family child care homes (with a sole caregiver in a residential setting) fell by 35 percent from 2011 to 2017.8 This request for information seeks public comment on innovative ways to address the affordability and access crisis of child care in the U.S., without compromising on quality. What We Are Looking for in Public Comments ACF is looking for an honest assessment of child care in the U.S. from the public and from a diverse array of stakeholder groups in order to inform the development of recommendations and/or future guidance. This includes parents who use child care, including parents of children with disabilities; small child care businesses, including family child care home providers; large and chain child care providers; pre-k groups; school administrators; child care regulators; state and local officials; employers; state and local chambers of commerce; foundations; faith-based and other community organizations; family child care networks; child care resource and referral agencies; universities and other institutions of higher education; child care workforce development organizations; economic development organizations; etc. 7 QualityCompendium.org, A Catalog and Comparison of Quality Initiatives like Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), Build Initiative. 8 ‘‘Addressing the Decreasing Number of Family Child Care Providers in the United States,’’ National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance, July 2019. E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 191 / Wednesday, October 2, 2019 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES In order to make it easier for the public to comment, some of the questions on which ACF seeks public comment indicate specific stakeholder groups that might be particularly interested in the topic area. Commenters should identify the question to which they are responding by indicating the corresponding letter and number(s). We request commenters who identify barriers or policies to indicate, with a citation if possible, the source/level (e.g., Federal, State, local) of the barrier or policy, as well as the types of child care providers (e.g., centers, family child care homes) that are impacted. A. Improving Access to Affordable, High Quality Child Care 1. Building Supply of Child Care. Many communities across the country are experiencing a shortage of child care providers, particularly for certain kinds of care, such as for infants and toddlers, for children with disabilities, in rural areas, and during non-traditional hours. The agency seeks public feedback on: a. Areas where there are specific barriers to child care providers entering the market, specifically what those barriers are (e.g., legislation, regulation, guidance, current practice, etc.), and the source of those barriers (e.g., federal, state, or local). b. Successful strategies for building the supply of high quality, affordable child care in underserved areas. (Stakeholders: Child care providers, child care regulatory agencies, employers, economic and community development organizations, community organizations, state and local officials). 2. Improving Child Care Regulations. Child care licensing, regulatory and monitoring frameworks are the basis for ensuring that child care settings are healthy and safe for children. However, policies to regulate the health and safety of child care settings are created separately at the federal, state (e.g., child care licensing) and local levels (e.g., zoning laws), which can result in an overlay of sometimes contradictory policies and procedures. a. ACF seeks information on ways to ensure that regulatory and monitoring practices are not duplicative, inconsistent, and/or unintentionally driving up the cost of providing care, reducing availability, or pushing different types of providers, such as faith-based or home-based family child care providers, out of the market. b. We also seek comment on the degree to which licensing requirements need to be tailored to the unique structures of different types of providers, and how monitoring for compliance could be used to support VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:42 Oct 01, 2019 Jkt 250001 providers in their pursuit of providing high quality care. (Stakeholders: Child care providers, child care regulatory agencies, economic and community development organizations, community-based organizations, state and local officials, parents). 3. Cultivating the Child Care Workforce. An important component of high quality child care, particularly for young children, is ensuring a nurturing, responsive relationship with caregivers.9 Removing barriers and introducing multiple pathways and career ladders for educators and caregivers to gain the skills and competencies they need to provide high quality care, without incurring undue student loan debt, can help to encourage more individuals to enter, and stay in, the child care workforce. a. ACF seeks public comment on what competency-based, short-term training models, apprenticeships, and stackable credentialing support (i) recruitment and (ii) professional development of early childhood educators. (Stakeholders: Child care providers, institutions of higher education, child care provider associations, workforce development organizations, community organizations, businesses, child care administrators). 4. Developing Better Child Care Business Models. Most child care providers operate as a small business and may be nonprofit or for-profit, home-based or center-based, religious/ faith-based or public institutions. a. ACF seeks public comment on promising and innovative strategies for improving business practices and promoting business development of child care providers in the private sector. This includes improving access to financing for building facilities to assist new providers in entering the market. b. Specifically, the agency is interested in comments about shared services alliances and consortia established to share overhead costs, improve fiscal and program management, and support access to preexisting training and resources for improving quality (including technology and non-personnel resources). c. ACF is interested in learning how states and providers are adjusting in states and localities that have expanded public pre-kindergarten programs, and how child care providers are addressing the loss of preschool-aged slots which 9 ‘‘Including Relationship-Based Care Practices in Infant-Toddler Care: Implications for Practice and Policy,’’ Network of Infant/Toddler Researchers, May 2016. PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 52509 previously offset the costs of more expensive infant and toddler slots. (Stakeholders: Child care providers, child care regulatory agencies, economic and community development organizations, family child care networks, community organizations, businesses, state and local chambers of commerce). B. Transforming Financing of Child Care and Early Education Programs The public portion of financing for child care and early education in the United States involves multiple programs and funding streams, administered by various agencies at the federal, state, and local levels, often with different eligibility requirements and quality standards.10 This creates challenges to families and communities in navigating these differences, and can lead to overlap in some areas and gaps in services in others. The Every Student Succeeds Act (Pub. L. 114–95) requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with other federal agencies, to issue and annually update a report that outlines the efficiencies that can be achieved by, and specific recommendations for, eliminating overlap and duplication among all federal early childhood education programs. So long as Federal and State funding continues to be fragmented across multiple delivery systems, the challenges families face in accessing high quality and affordable care, will persist. Over the past decade, public support for child care and early learning programs has grown, at both the federal and state level, yet as these challenges are contemplated, more attention should be paid to our current system and whether it is the right foundation upon which to build. 1. ACF seeks public comment on more effectively using existing federal and state resources to align and strengthen the delivery of child care and early education, and ideas for improving the financing framework to better support future investment. This includes recommendations to streamline or combine existing resources and programs in order to improve the overall participation of children in a mixed delivery system, improving program quality while maintaining availability of services, expanding parental choice, and enhancing access for children from lowincome and disadvantaged families. The agency encourages commenters to think about the following: 10 ‘‘Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education,’’ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018. E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1 52510 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 191 / Wednesday, October 2, 2019 / Notices a. Barriers that exist in the governance and funding structures of current programs that limit the most efficient use of local, state and federal resources. b. Ideas for alternative financing frameworks or models that better leverage the significant investment in child care and early education funding already in place at the federal and state levels (outlined in the table below), including ideas that are outside the current framework or that re-envision existing programs. c. Examples of innovative models and practices, especially those that include private sector investments and partnerships, that help to maximize child care resources. MAJOR SOURCES OF U.S. EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION FUNDING Direct Federal Funding * Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) ........................................................................................................................... Head Start/Early Head Start/Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships ................................................................................ Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ** .......................................................................................................................... Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five ................................................................................................................. Social Services Block Grant *** ............................................................................................................................................... $8.2 billion. $10.1 billion. Approx. $3 billion. $250 million. Approx. $280 million. Federal Tax Credits/Subsidies **** Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit .................................................................................................................................... Employer-Provided Child Care Exclusion ............................................................................................................................... Employer-Provided Child Care Credit ..................................................................................................................................... $4.44 billion. $680 million. $20 million. State Funding State Match and Maintenance-of-Effort for CCDF .................................................................................................................. State Pre-K Spending ***** ...................................................................................................................................................... Total .................................................................................................................................................................................. Approx. $2 billion. $8.4 billion. Approx. $37 billion. * Funding represents fiscal year 2019 enacted unless otherwise indicated. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awards and oversees the funding sources listed in this section. ** Based on FY 2017 financial data, the latest year for which data is available. Includes transfer to CCDF and direct spending on child care from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ofa/tanf_financial_data_fy_2017_12819_ 508_compliant.pdf. *** Spending on child care from the Social Services Block Grant as of FY 2016, the latest year for which data is available: https:// www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/resource/ssbg-fact-sheet. **** FY 2019: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/ap_16_expenditures-fy2020.pdf. Cost for exclusion includes income tax reduction only; does not include payroll tax reduction. The U.S. Department of the Treasury is the federal agency responsible for administering these tax policies. ***** National Institute for Early Education Research: http://nieer.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/YB2018_Executive-SummaryR.pdf. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Collection of Information Requirements Please note: This is a request for information (RFI) only. In accordance with the implementing regulations of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), specifically 5 CFR 1320.3(h)(4), this general solicitation is exempt from the PRA. Facts or opinions submitted in response to general solicitations of comments from the public, published in the Federal Register or other publications, regardless of the form or format thereof, provided that no person is required to supply specific information pertaining to the commenter, other than that necessary for self-identification, as a condition of the agency’s full consideration, are not generally considered information collections and therefore not subject to the PRA. This RFI is issued solely for information and planning purposes; it does not constitute a Request for Proposals (RFPs), applications, proposal abstracts, or quotations. This RFI does not commit the U.S. Government to contract for any supplies or services or to make a grant award. Further, we are VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:42 Oct 01, 2019 Jkt 250001 not seeking proposals through this RFI and will not accept unsolicited proposals. Responders are advised that the U.S. Government will not pay for any information or administrative costs incurred in responding to this RFI; all costs associated with responding to this RFI will be solely at the interested party’s expense. We note that not responding to this RFI does not preclude participation in any future procurement, if conducted. It is the responsibility of the potential responders to monitor this RFI announcement for additional information pertaining to this request. In addition, ACF will not respond to questions about the policy issues raised in this RFI. We will actively consider all input as we develop future regulatory proposals or future sub-regulatory policy guidance. We may or may not choose to contact individual responders. Such communications would be for the sole purpose of clarifying statements in the responders’ written responses. Contractor support personnel may be used to review responses to this RFI. PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the U.S. Government to form a binding contract or to issue a grant. Information obtained as a result of this RFI may be used by the U.S. Government for program planning on a non-attribution basis. Respondents should not include any information that might be considered proprietary or confidential. This RFI should not be construed as a commitment or authorization to incur cost for which reimbursement would be required or sought. All submissions become U.S. Government property and will not be returned. In addition, we will publicly post the public comments received, or a summary of those public comments. Dated: September 27, 2019. Lynn A. Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families. [FR Doc. 2019–21530 Filed 9–30–19; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4184–01–P E:\FR\FM\02OCN1.SGM 02OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 191 (Wednesday, October 2, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 52507-52510]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-21530]


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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Administration for Children and Families

[Docket No.: HHS-ACF-2019-0005]
RIN 0970-ZA15


Improving Access to Affordable, High Quality Child Care: Request 
for Information

AGENCY: Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of 
Health and Human Services.

ACTION: Notice; request for information.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: As part of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) 
commitment to supporting working families and promoting the healthy 
development and well-being of children, ACF is seeking input from the 
public and interested stakeholders on strategies to improve access to 
high quality, affordable child care in the U.S. Child care is one of 
the biggest expenses a family faces and can be a barrier to work. The 
average cost of center-based infant child care in 28 states is more 
than college tuition. At the same time, child care settings are a place 
of learning and education for children from the time they are infants 
and toddlers through their school-age years. Access to high quality 
learning opportunities lays the foundation for children's development 
and, ultimately,

[[Page 52508]]

their success in school and in life. Unfortunately, many families do 
not have access to the affordable, high quality child care their 
children need. This Request for Information seeks public comment on: 
Identifying emerging and innovative practices to improve access to high 
quality child care, as well as identifying regulatory and other 
policies that unnecessarily drive up the cost of care or limit parents' 
choice of different child care options; and identifying ways to improve 
funding of child care and other related early education programs to 
support quality and create a more streamlined, equitable, and 
sustainable financing framework for future generations. Information 
collected through this request may be used by ACF in the development of 
future rulemaking and technical assistance, formation of legislative 
proposals and research agendas, and/or strategic planning.

DATES: Submit comments by December 2, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may send comments, identified by [docket number and/or 
RIN number], by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow instructions for sending comments. We prefer to receive comments 
via this method.
     Mail: Office of Child Care, Attention: Request for 
Information, 330 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20201.
    Instructions: We urge you to submit comments electronically to 
ensure they are received in a timely manner. All submissions received 
must include our agency name and the docket number or Regulatory 
Information Number (RIN) for this notice. All comments will be posted 
without change to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided. We accept anonymous comments. If you wish to 
remain anonymous, enter ``N/A'' in the required fields.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Williams, Office of Child Care, 
Administration for Children and Families, 330 C Street SW, Washington, 
DC 20201; (202) 690-6782.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    ACF is focused on finding innovative solutions to improve working 
families' access to affordable, high quality child care, as well as 
investigating how access to child care affects America's workforce, 
present and future. Child care is one of the biggest expenses a family 
faces and can be a barrier to work. The average cost of center-based 
infant child care in 28 states is more than college tuition.\1\ 
Evidence on the effects of child care costs on labor supply suggests 
that some parents, particularly women, would enter the labor force, or 
increase their work hours, if the cost of child care was lower.\2\ One 
study found that a 10 percent increase in child care costs is 
associated with a 7.4 percent decline in women's labor force 
participation.\3\ The impact of child care challenges extends beyond 
families. Employee absences and turnover resulting from lack of 
reliable and affordable child care can cost employers, and impact 
overall economic development by reducing productivity and constricting 
the labor market.\4\ Policies that reduce the cost of child care could 
help maintain and bring more Americans into the workforce, increase 
opportunities for families, and ensure that strong economic growth is 
inclusive and sustained in the future.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ ``The US and the High Cost of Child Care,'' Child Care Aware 
of America, 2018 Report. The term ``states'' includes the District 
of Columbia.
    \2\ ``Work and the Cost of Child Care,'' Council of Economic 
Advisors, February 2019.
    \3\ ``How to Improve Economic Opportunity for Women,'' Aparna 
Mathur and Abby McCloskey, American Enterprise Institute, June 2014.
    \4\ ``Lost Opportunities: The Impact of Inadequate Child Care on 
Indiana's Workforce & Economy,'' Laura Littlepage, Indiana 
University Public Policy Institute, June 2018; ``Opportunities Lost: 
How Child Care Challenges Affect Georgia's Workforce and Economy,'' 
Hanah Goldberg, Tim Cairl, and Thomas J. Cunningham, Georgian Early 
Education Alliance for Ready Students and Metro Atlanta Chamber, 
2018.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    At the same time, there is concern about the quality of child care 
and ensuring that child care settings are a place of education that 
promote and enhance child and youth development and well-being. High 
quality child care is a critical investment that pays off now, for 
parents by enabling them to work, and later, by supporting children's 
development and success in school and life. Research has shown that 
high quality learning environments are important for the cognitive, 
language, and social development of children,\5\ and that investments 
have the potential to generate economic returns in the long-run.\6\ 
State child care licensing and regulatory systems act as a foundation 
to ensure basic health and safety of child care settings, primarily 
based on structural and environmental factors. Many states have 
implemented quality rating and improvement systems with additional 
tiered requirements above those established by licensing and regulatory 
systems, in order to help child care providers strive toward higher 
quality care.\7\ The challenge ahead is making sure that standards of 
quality are dynamic and suited to different types of child care 
settings serving the full age and developmental range of children, so 
that parents continue to have choice, and quality standards are 
attainable by the full range of child care providers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ ``Quality Thresholds, Features, and Dosage in Early Care and 
Education: Secondary Data Analyses of Child Outcomes,'' Edited by: 
Margaret Burchinal, Martha Zaslow, and Louisa Tarullo, Society for 
Research in Child Development, June 2016.
    \6\ ``Quantifying the Life-cycle Benefits of a Prototypical 
Early Childhood Program,'' Jorge Luis Garcia, James J. Heckman, 
Duncan Ermini Leaf, and Maria Jose Prados, May 2017.
    \7\ QualityCompendium.org, A Catalog and Comparison of Quality 
Initiatives like Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), 
Build Initiative.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Respecting the role that parents play in choosing the care that is 
best suited to their child's needs, and their own values, culture, and 
work schedules (including non-traditional hours), is critical. One-size 
fits all directives on what constitutes high quality child care can be 
counter-productive if they effectively limit the number of child care 
providers left in the market from which parents can choose. The number 
of licensed, small family child care homes (with a sole caregiver in a 
residential setting) fell by 35 percent from 2011 to 2017.\8\ This 
request for information seeks public comment on innovative ways to 
address the affordability and access crisis of child care in the U.S., 
without compromising on quality.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ ``Addressing the Decreasing Number of Family Child Care 
Providers in the United States,'' National Center on Early Childhood 
Quality Assurance, July 2019.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

What We Are Looking for in Public Comments

    ACF is looking for an honest assessment of child care in the U.S. 
from the public and from a diverse array of stakeholder groups in order 
to inform the development of recommendations and/or future guidance. 
This includes parents who use child care, including parents of children 
with disabilities; small child care businesses, including family child 
care home providers; large and chain child care providers; pre-k 
groups; school administrators; child care regulators; state and local 
officials; employers; state and local chambers of commerce; 
foundations; faith-based and other community organizations; family 
child care networks; child care resource and referral agencies; 
universities and other institutions of higher education; child care 
workforce development organizations; economic development 
organizations; etc.

[[Page 52509]]

    In order to make it easier for the public to comment, some of the 
questions on which ACF seeks public comment indicate specific 
stakeholder groups that might be particularly interested in the topic 
area. Commenters should identify the question to which they are 
responding by indicating the corresponding letter and number(s). We 
request commenters who identify barriers or policies to indicate, with 
a citation if possible, the source/level (e.g., Federal, State, local) 
of the barrier or policy, as well as the types of child care providers 
(e.g., centers, family child care homes) that are impacted.

A. Improving Access to Affordable, High Quality Child Care

    1. Building Supply of Child Care. Many communities across the 
country are experiencing a shortage of child care providers, 
particularly for certain kinds of care, such as for infants and 
toddlers, for children with disabilities, in rural areas, and during 
non-traditional hours. The agency seeks public feedback on:
    a. Areas where there are specific barriers to child care providers 
entering the market, specifically what those barriers are (e.g., 
legislation, regulation, guidance, current practice, etc.), and the 
source of those barriers (e.g., federal, state, or local).
    b. Successful strategies for building the supply of high quality, 
affordable child care in underserved areas.
    (Stakeholders: Child care providers, child care regulatory 
agencies, employers, economic and community development organizations, 
community organizations, state and local officials).
    2. Improving Child Care Regulations. Child care licensing, 
regulatory and monitoring frameworks are the basis for ensuring that 
child care settings are healthy and safe for children. However, 
policies to regulate the health and safety of child care settings are 
created separately at the federal, state (e.g., child care licensing) 
and local levels (e.g., zoning laws), which can result in an overlay of 
sometimes contradictory policies and procedures.
    a. ACF seeks information on ways to ensure that regulatory and 
monitoring practices are not duplicative, inconsistent, and/or 
unintentionally driving up the cost of providing care, reducing 
availability, or pushing different types of providers, such as faith-
based or home-based family child care providers, out of the market.
    b. We also seek comment on the degree to which licensing 
requirements need to be tailored to the unique structures of different 
types of providers, and how monitoring for compliance could be used to 
support providers in their pursuit of providing high quality care.
    (Stakeholders: Child care providers, child care regulatory 
agencies, economic and community development organizations, community-
based organizations, state and local officials, parents).
    3. Cultivating the Child Care Workforce. An important component of 
high quality child care, particularly for young children, is ensuring a 
nurturing, responsive relationship with caregivers.\9\ Removing 
barriers and introducing multiple pathways and career ladders for 
educators and caregivers to gain the skills and competencies they need 
to provide high quality care, without incurring undue student loan 
debt, can help to encourage more individuals to enter, and stay in, the 
child care workforce.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ ``Including Relationship-Based Care Practices in Infant-
Toddler Care: Implications for Practice and Policy,'' Network of 
Infant/Toddler Researchers, May 2016.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    a. ACF seeks public comment on what competency-based, short-term 
training models, apprenticeships, and stackable credentialing support 
(i) recruitment and (ii) professional development of early childhood 
educators.
    (Stakeholders: Child care providers, institutions of higher 
education, child care provider associations, workforce development 
organizations, community organizations, businesses, child care 
administrators).
    4. Developing Better Child Care Business Models. Most child care 
providers operate as a small business and may be nonprofit or for-
profit, home-based or center-based, religious/faith-based or public 
institutions.
    a. ACF seeks public comment on promising and innovative strategies 
for improving business practices and promoting business development of 
child care providers in the private sector. This includes improving 
access to financing for building facilities to assist new providers in 
entering the market.
    b. Specifically, the agency is interested in comments about shared 
services alliances and consortia established to share overhead costs, 
improve fiscal and program management, and support access to 
preexisting training and resources for improving quality (including 
technology and non-personnel resources).
    c. ACF is interested in learning how states and providers are 
adjusting in states and localities that have expanded public pre-
kindergarten programs, and how child care providers are addressing the 
loss of preschool-aged slots which previously offset the costs of more 
expensive infant and toddler slots.
    (Stakeholders: Child care providers, child care regulatory 
agencies, economic and community development organizations, family 
child care networks, community organizations, businesses, state and 
local chambers of commerce).

B. Transforming Financing of Child Care and Early Education Programs

    The public portion of financing for child care and early education 
in the United States involves multiple programs and funding streams, 
administered by various agencies at the federal, state, and local 
levels, often with different eligibility requirements and quality 
standards.\10\ This creates challenges to families and communities in 
navigating these differences, and can lead to overlap in some areas and 
gaps in services in others. The Every Student Succeeds Act (Pub. L. 
114-95) requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 
consultation with other federal agencies, to issue and annually update 
a report that outlines the efficiencies that can be achieved by, and 
specific recommendations for, eliminating overlap and duplication among 
all federal early childhood education programs. So long as Federal and 
State funding continues to be fragmented across multiple delivery 
systems, the challenges families face in accessing high quality and 
affordable care, will persist. Over the past decade, public support for 
child care and early learning programs has grown, at both the federal 
and state level, yet as these challenges are contemplated, more 
attention should be paid to our current system and whether it is the 
right foundation upon which to build.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ ``Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education,'' 
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1. ACF seeks public comment on more effectively using existing 
federal and state resources to align and strengthen the delivery of 
child care and early education, and ideas for improving the financing 
framework to better support future investment. This includes 
recommendations to streamline or combine existing resources and 
programs in order to improve the overall participation of children in a 
mixed delivery system, improving program quality while maintaining 
availability of services, expanding parental choice, and enhancing 
access for children from low-income and disadvantaged families. The 
agency encourages commenters to think about the following:

[[Page 52510]]

    a. Barriers that exist in the governance and funding structures of 
current programs that limit the most efficient use of local, state and 
federal resources.
    b. Ideas for alternative financing frameworks or models that better 
leverage the significant investment in child care and early education 
funding already in place at the federal and state levels (outlined in 
the table below), including ideas that are outside the current 
framework or that re-envision existing programs.
    c. Examples of innovative models and practices, especially those 
that include private sector investments and partnerships, that help to 
maximize child care resources.

         Major Sources of U.S. Early Care and Education Funding
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Direct Federal Funding *
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)....  $8.2 billion.
Head Start/Early Head Start/Early Head      $10.1 billion.
 Start-Child Care Partnerships.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families **  Approx. $3 billion.
Preschool Development Grants Birth through  $250 million.
 Five.
Social Services Block Grant ***...........  Approx. $280 million.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Federal Tax Credits/Subsidies ****
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.......  $4.44 billion.
Employer-Provided Child Care Exclusion....  $680 million.
Employer-Provided Child Care Credit.......  $20 million.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              State Funding
------------------------------------------------------------------------
State Match and Maintenance-of-Effort for   Approx. $2 billion.
 CCDF.
State Pre-K Spending *****................  $8.4 billion.
    Total.................................  Approx. $37 billion.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Funding represents fiscal year 2019 enacted unless otherwise
  indicated. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awards and
  oversees the funding sources listed in this section.
** Based on FY 2017 financial data, the latest year for which data is
  available. Includes transfer to CCDF and direct spending on child care
  from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ofa/tanf_financial_data_fy_2017_12819_508_compliant.pdf.
*** Spending on child care from the Social Services Block Grant as of FY
  2016, the latest year for which data is available: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/resource/ssbg-fact-sheet.
**** FY 2019: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/ap_16_expenditures-fy2020.pdf. Cost for exclusion includes income tax
  reduction only; does not include payroll tax reduction. The U.S.
  Department of the Treasury is the federal agency responsible for
  administering these tax policies.
***** National Institute for Early Education Research: http://nieer.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/YB2018_Executive-SummaryR.pdf.

Collection of Information Requirements

    Please note: This is a request for information (RFI) only. In 
accordance with the implementing regulations of the Paperwork Reduction 
Act of 1995 (PRA), specifically 5 CFR 1320.3(h)(4), this general 
solicitation is exempt from the PRA. Facts or opinions submitted in 
response to general solicitations of comments from the public, 
published in the Federal Register or other publications, regardless of 
the form or format thereof, provided that no person is required to 
supply specific information pertaining to the commenter, other than 
that necessary for self-identification, as a condition of the agency's 
full consideration, are not generally considered information 
collections and therefore not subject to the PRA.
    This RFI is issued solely for information and planning purposes; it 
does not constitute a Request for Proposals (RFPs), applications, 
proposal abstracts, or quotations. This RFI does not commit the U.S. 
Government to contract for any supplies or services or to make a grant 
award. Further, we are not seeking proposals through this RFI and will 
not accept unsolicited proposals. Responders are advised that the U.S. 
Government will not pay for any information or administrative costs 
incurred in responding to this RFI; all costs associated with 
responding to this RFI will be solely at the interested party's 
expense. We note that not responding to this RFI does not preclude 
participation in any future procurement, if conducted. It is the 
responsibility of the potential responders to monitor this RFI 
announcement for additional information pertaining to this request. In 
addition, ACF will not respond to questions about the policy issues 
raised in this RFI.
    We will actively consider all input as we develop future regulatory 
proposals or future sub-regulatory policy guidance. We may or may not 
choose to contact individual responders. Such communications would be 
for the sole purpose of clarifying statements in the responders' 
written responses. Contractor support personnel may be used to review 
responses to this RFI. Responses to this notice are not offers and 
cannot be accepted by the U.S. Government to form a binding contract or 
to issue a grant. Information obtained as a result of this RFI may be 
used by the U.S. Government for program planning on a non-attribution 
basis. Respondents should not include any information that might be 
considered proprietary or confidential. This RFI should not be 
construed as a commitment or authorization to incur cost for which 
reimbursement would be required or sought. All submissions become U.S. 
Government property and will not be returned. In addition, we will 
publicly post the public comments received, or a summary of those 
public comments.

    Dated: September 27, 2019.
Lynn A. Johnson,
Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families.
[FR Doc. 2019-21530 Filed 9-30-19; 4:15 pm]
 BILLING CODE 4184-01-P