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Child Care and Development Fund: Monitoring of Licensed Child Care Providers

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Child Care and Development Fund: Monitoring of Licensed Child Care Providers

Teresa Dailey, a program analyst for the Office of Evaluation and Inspections in Kansas City, is interviewed by Brian Whitley, Regional Inspector General for the Office of Evaluation and Inspections.

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY

ACF administers the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which provides financial assistance with child care for approximately 1.6 million children each month. In accordance with Federal regulations, States must certify that they have in effect, under State or local law, requirements designed to protect the health and safety of children receiving CCDF subsidies and to monitor these requirements. Such certification helps ensure that Federal money is used to pay for care that meets health and safety requirements.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY

For Federal fiscal years (FYs) 2010 through 2011, we reviewed each State's licensing and health and safety requirements and surveyed State staff responsible for licensing, health and safety, and monitoring providers for compliance. We selected five States (California, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas) representing 35 percent of all children in the CCDF program in FY 2009 for review. We obtained information on the results of activities to monitor child care providers through documentation review and discussions with State staff. We surveyed ACF staff to determine the extent to which ACF monitors States' licensing and health and safety requirements.

WHAT WE FOUND

Federal law requires States to have health and safety requirements in three areas: (1) the prevention and control of infectious diseases, (2) building and physical premises safety, and (3) minimum health and safety training. All States complied with the Federal requirement to have health and safety requirements for licensed child care providers in these three areas. However, States' monitoring requirements did not always meet ACF's recommendations for background screenings or the recommended standards for unannounced inspections found in the book entitled Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Out-of-Home Child Care Program. In selected States we reviewed, monitoring of licensed providers was not conducted in accordance with States' own requirements. Moreover, ACF did little to monitor how States were overseeing CCDF providers.

WHAT WE RECOMMEND

We recommend that ACF seek authority to develop health and safety standards and ensure that States' requirements meet them, develop requirements for States to conduct mandatory background screenings and periodic unannounced inspections, conduct periodic reviews of States' compliance with their own licensing requirements related to minimum health and safety standards, and ensure that State plans comply with health and safety requirements. Many of our concerns are addressed in ACF's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued on May 20, 2013. ACF concurred with all five of our recommendations.