Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate amended (08/11/1988)

(Reported to Senate from the Committee on Labor and Human Resources with amendment, S. Rept. 100-484)

Act for Better Child Care Services of 1988 - Makes eligible for services under this Act children: (1) who are less than 16 years of age; (2) whose family income does not exceed the State median income for a family of the same size; and (3) who either reside with a parent or parents who are working, seeking employment, or enrolled in a job training or educational program, or reside with a parent or parents not thus described and receive or need to receive protective services.

Authorizes appropriations for FY 1989 through 1993 to carry out this Act.

Reserves specified amounts for certain U.S. territories and possessions and for certain programs for Indian children.

Sets forth a formula for allotments to States based on numbers of children under age five, numbers of children eligible for free or reduced price lunches under the school lunch program, and per capita income.

Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the Secretary) to make grants to applicant Indian tribes or tribal organizations for programs and activities under this Act for the benefit of Indian children. Directs the Secretary, in determining whether to approve a tribal grant application, to consider: (1) the tribe's codes, regulations, and cultural factors, as well as applicable State licensing and regulatory requirements, in establishing standards for such programs; and (2) the availability of child care services provided by the State in accordance with this Act. Requires coordination between tribal and State programs under this Act.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) obtain from each appropriate Federal agency the most recent information necessary to determine State allotments; and (2) make reallotments, within certain limitations, under specified circumstances.

Requires the designation of a lead agency in each State which participates in the program under this Act.

Requires States to submit, in order to qualify for assistance under this Act, an application and plan to the Secretary. Requires each plan to cover a five-year period and to meet specified requirements for providers of child care services.

Requires a plan to provide for: (1) a designated lead agency; (2) a State advisory committee on child care; (3) policies and procedures; (4) distribution of funds; (5) reimbursements; (6) priorities; (7) a sliding fee scale; (8) parental involvement; (9) enforcement of licensing, registration, and other regulatory requirements; and (10) data collection.

Requires the plan to specify that at least 75 percent of the State allotment will be used to provide qualified child care services to eligible children, on a sliding fee scale basis (according to specified funding methods) with priority given to services to children of families with very low incomes for their size. Requires that at least ten percent of such reserved funds be used to provide for the extension of part-day programs.

Requires the plan to use not more than 15 percent of the State allotment for all of the following child care related activities: (1) financial assistance for State and local resource and referral programs; (2) improvement of compliance monitoring and enforcement of State licensing, registration, and other regulations; (3) training, technical assistance, and scholarship assistance; (4) adequate salaries and compensation for full- and part-time staff who provide child care services for which assistance is provided under this Act; (5) grants and low-interest loans to family and nonprofit providers to establish programs and renovate and improve existing facilities; and (6) grants and low-interest loans to providers to meet government child care standards, with priority to those receiving Federal or other publicly-assisted child care programs serving families with very low incomes.

Provides for approval of applications and special rules for use of State allotments. Requires that child care services for eligible children that are provided out of a State allotment be provided by: (1) contracts with or grants to eligible child care providers to provide such services directly; (2) grants to local governments to contract with such providers to provide such services directly; or (3) child care certificates distributed to parents of eligible children to enable them to purchase such services from such providers. Allows a State to issue such certificates only if a resource and referral program by a organization recognized under specified provisions is available to help parents locate child care services made available by eligible child care providers.

Requires that a specified portion of State allotment funds be used to enable providers to extend the hours of operation of part-day programs to provide full-working-day child care services throughout the year.

Prohibits financial assistance under this Act from being expended for the construction of a new facility, and sets forth limitations on such assistance for renovation or repair of existing facilities.

Authorizes the Secretary to make planning grants, in the first year of their program participation, to States which desire to participate under this Act but cannot fully satisfy the requirements of a State plan without financial assistance.

Provides for a review of the operation of a State plan during the five-year period to determine the State's continued eligibility for funds.

Directs the Governors of each participating State to establish, and appoint members of, a State advisory committee on child care to assist the lead agency, review and evaluate services, make recommendations on standards and practices, and perform other functions to improve the quantity and quality of child care services. Requires the committee to have a subcommittee on licensing to review the laws applicable to end the licensing requirements and policies of each licensing agency regulating child care services and programs in the State (unless the State has done such a review during the four years before the establishment of the committee). Requires the subcommittee to report to the Governor, within one year after the committee's establishment, on specified matters. Requires the Governor, within 60 days of receipt of such report, to report to the Secretary with comments and a plan for correcting or improving licensing, regulating, and monitoring of child care services and programs. Terminates assistance under the Act for committee activities occurring more than 90 days after the State report is submitted.

Requires States receiving funds under this Act to designate private nonprofit community-based organizations or public organizations, including local governments, as resource and referral agencies for particular areas, and to provide assistance to such agencies. Requires such resource and referral programs to: (1) identify existing child care services; (2) provide parents information on and referral to such services; (3) provide for information, training, and technical assistance to existing and potential providers and others, including businesses, concerned with availability of such services; and (4) provide information on supply of and demand for such services in a community. Sets forth eligibility requirements for designation as such an agency. Sets forth provisions relating to such agencies' information and support services functions. Prohibits a resource and referral agency from providing information on any program or services not in compliance with State and local laws.

Requires each participating State to require that all employed or self-employed persons providing licensed or regulated child care complete at least 15 hours per year of specified training. Directs the State to make grants, and enter into contracts with, specified entities to provide such training to eligible providers, including family child care providers. Requires such training to address: (1) appropriate services for special populations of children; (2) health and safety; (3) child growth and development; (4) guidance and discipline techniques; (5) planning of learning activities; (6) linkages with community services; (7) communication with families; and (8) management practices and procedures, including risk management. Sets forth eligibility requirements for grants and contracts relating to: (1) training for family child care providers; and (2) technical assistance.

Requires participating States to provide scholarship assistance to: (1) individuals who seek a nationally recognized child development associate credential for center-based or family child care and whose income is not more than 50 percent above the poverty line; and (2) caregivers who seek to obtain the 15-hour minimum annual training and whose income is not above the poverty line.

Requires States to establish in the lead agency a clearinghouse to collect and disseminate training materials to resource and referral agencies and child care providers.

Establishes in the Department of Health and Human Services the position of Administrator of Child Care, to be appointed by the Secretary. Requires the Administrator to: (1) coordinate all of such Department's activities relating to child care, and to coordinate them with similar activities of other Federal entities; (2) annually collect and publish State child care standards, including periodic modifications; (3) evaluate activities funded under this Act; (4) act as a clearinghouse for specified matters, including studies on salaries of child care workers; and (5) provide technical assistance to States to carry out this Act.

Establishes enforcement provisions for review of State plans and monitoring of State compliance.

Sets forth provisions for payments to States of the Federal share of the aggregate amount to be expended under the State plan. Sets such Federal share at 80 percent, but raises it to 85 percent when the State demonstrates that all child care providers are appropriately licensed and regulated and that those receiving assistance meet certain requirements and minimum standards under this Act.

Requires the Secretary to establish a National Advisory Committee on Child Care Standards to: (1) review Federal policies on child care services and such other data as appropriate; (2) submit to the Secretary proposed minimum standards for child care programs; and (3) develop and make available to lead agencies model regulations for resource and referral agencies.

Limits the areas of concern which such proposed minimum child care standards may address.

Limits such standards for center-based child care services to: (1) group size limits in terms of number of caregivers and number and ages of children; (2) maximum appropriate child-staff ratios; (3) personnel qualifications and backgroud; (4) health and safety; and (5) parental involvement in licensed and regulated services. Requires group size limits and child-staff ratio standards to reflect the median standards for all States as of the date of enactment of this Act (using for States which apply separate standards to publicly-assisted programs the most comprehensive or stringent of such standards).

Limits such standards for family child care services to: (1) maximum number of children, and total number of infants, for which services may be provided; (2) minimum age of caregivers; and (3) health and safety.

Limits such standards for group home child care services to those matters specified with respect to family child care services, plus maximum approprate child-staff ratios.

Directs the Secretary, within 90 days after receiving the Committee's recommendations, to: (1) publish in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking and such proposed minimum standards for public comment for at least a 60-day period; and (2) distribute such standards to each lead agency and State subcommittee on licensing, for comment. Directs the Secretary, in consultation with the Committee to: (1) consider comments on the proposed standards; and (2) within 180 days after publication of proposed standards, issue rules establishing minimum child care standards for purposes of this Act, including specified nutrition requirements issued and revised under the National School Lunch Act. Authorizes the Secretary to amend such standards, but prohibits modifications which make a standard less comprehensive or less stringent. Allows the Committee to submit appropriate additional comments on such standards to the Secretary and the Congress. Terminates the Committee 90 days after the Secretary establishes such standards.

Prohibits financial assistance under this Act from being used for: (1) any sectarian purpose or activity, including sectarian worship and instruction; and (2) with regard to services to students in grades one through 12, any services during the regular school day, or for which academic credit is given toward graduation, or which supplant or duplicate a public or private school academic program.

Provides that financial assistance under this Act constitutes Federal financial assistance for purposes of various civil rights and nondiscrimination laws.

Prohibits a child care provider from discriminating against any child on the basis of religion in providing child care services in return for a fee paid, reimbursement received, or certificate redeemed, in whole or in part with financial assistance provided under this Act.

Provides that nothing in this Act shall be construed or applied in any manner to infringe upon or usurp the the moral and legal rights and responsibilities of parents or legal guardians.