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On May 11, 2023 Indi Dutta-Gupta testified before the House Budget Committee on protecting American families from attempts to hold hostage policies that support them.

This testimony first explains at a high level why many people in the United States rely on specific federal programs to achieve economic security and access economic opportunity and how federal policies—in particular—effectively meet many of these needs. Next, the testimony explains why the deep cuts mandated under the McCarthy debt ceiling bill would undermine the nation’s well-being, including through counterproductive cuts to child care, workforce development, and postsecondary education. The testimony then explains why revenues must be a major part of the answer to concerns about deficits and debt. It concludes by highlighting the dangers of failing to raise our arbitrary threshold on the amount of outstanding obligations we allow ourselves to pay and urging Congress to act swiftly to avoid this self-inflicted wound to our prosperity.

Read the full testimony here.

By Alejandra Londono Gomez

Question: What is presumptive eligibility and why do families need it?

Answer:  Presumptive eligibility for child care subsidies is a policy that allows families to receive temporary and immediate financial assistance to pay for child care services, while the agency administering the subsidy program determines and verifies their eligibility for the program.

Question: How many states have a presumptive eligibility policy for child care?

Answer: As of April 2023, four states and one county have a presumptive eligibility policy for child care assistance: Delaware, Maryland, Montana, Wyoming, and Monroe County in New York.

Question: How long does an eligibility determination take in a state that does not have a presumptive eligibility policy?

Answer: The period of time for a state and jurisdiction to determine eligibility without presumptive eligibility varies greatly depending on many circumstances. Qualitative data suggests that families across states wait approximately 30 days for an eligibility determination. In some states, it can take several months to complete.

Question: How long can a family be considered presumptively eligible?

Answer: Each state and jurisdiction determines the amount of time they can provide child care subsidies for families who are considered presumptively eligible. Many states consider factors like current funding or the current processing time for the application. In states with presumptive eligibility policies, the current range is from 30 to 60 days.

Question: How can families ensure that they continue to receive child care assistance after their presumptive eligibility phase is over?

Answer: Families should complete the application process as determined by each state or jurisdiction. This includes fully completing the application and submitting all accompanying documents.

Question: What happens if a family does not finish its application after receiving presumptive eligibility?

Answer: Each state and jurisdiction have different rules in place for families who do not complete their application. However, most states will stop providing assistance if the family has not completed the application at the conclusion of the presumptive eligibility period.

Question: What happens if the family is determined not to be eligible for the program?

Answer: If a presumptively eligible family is determined ineligible under state and federal eligibility rules, the family would no longer be eligible for care. Most states allow families to finish out the presumptive eligibility period. Additionally, the state’s subsidy payment made during the presumptive eligibility period would be considered an unallowable expenditure. Therefore, the state child care agency would not be able to use federal funds for the payment and any federal funds used would be subject to repayment to the federal government.

Question: What happens if a family is determined to not be eligible for a subsidy under the state or jurisdiction’s requirements, but is eligible under the federal criteria?

Answer: If a family is determined to be ineligible for the program under the state or jurisdiction’s eligibility rules, but is determined to be eligible within the federal eligibility requirements, the state may use federal funds to cover the cost of the subsidy. In other words, if a family met federal eligibility rules, but failed to meet additional state eligibility requirements, the payment would still be allowable. However, the family would not continue to be eligible for the program after the presumptive eligibility period is complete or as otherwise determined by the state or jurisdiction.

Question: Will families be responsible for repayment if they are found to be ineligible for the program?

Answer: The funds used to support families during the presumptive eligibility period will not need to be recovered unless the payment was the result of fraud.

Question: Will providers be paid, even if a family is deemed ineligible for ongoing assistance?

Answer: Yes. Child care providers must still be paid for services rendered even if the family is deemed ineligible.

Question: Will presumptive eligibility cost states a lot of money?

Answer: No. A state is only responsible to cover funds if a family is found to be ineligible under the federal eligibility rules. Since presumptive eligibility is a temporary policy, the amount of money that a state could be responsible for is very low. States that have implemented a presumptive eligibility policy have not reported large costs as a result.

Question: How do I pursue a presumptive eligibility policy in my state?

Answer: For technical assistance to support your state’s efforts toward a presumptive eligibility policy in child care please reach out to Alejandra Londono Gomez at

>> Read the FAQs here

By Alejandra Londono Gomez

Presumptive eligibility for child care subsidies is a policy that allows families to receive temporary child care assistance while their eligibility for the program is being determined. This means that families can get immediate financial assistance to pay for child care services, even as their application is being processed and verified. During this provisional period, families are allowed time to submit outstanding documents while getting access to much-needed care. Currently, presumptive eligibility is available in four states and one county: Delaware, Maryland, Montana, Wyoming, and Monroe County in New York.

Families Gain Significant Benefits with Presumptive Eligibility

From language barriers and long lists of documents to disproportionate access to technology, many families often have trouble with the child care assistance application process. The barriers are particularly steep for families with low incomes and Black, immigrant, and other families of color who are disproportionately affected by racism in public benefit programs. Enhancing families’ access to child care while determining their qualifications for subsidies has several advantages. Presumptive eligibility policies help families and states by:

Presumptive Eligibility Journey


It’s important to note that presumptive eligibility is temporary. Families must complete the application process to receive ongoing subsidies. The duration of the presumptive eligibility period can also vary by state or jurisdiction. Since only four states and one county have a presumptive eligibility policy in place, most states have a tremendous opportunity to expedite access to care for families by implementing this policy. To learn more about presumptive eligibility see our FAQ.

For more information or to receive technical assistance to support your state’s efforts to work toward a presumptive eligibility policy in child care, reach out to Alejandra Londono Gomez at

>> Read the full fact sheet here

By Stephanie Schmit & Alycia Hardy 

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) recently reintroduced a stronger, revised version of the Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA). The bill addresses longstanding inequities in child care and early education for families and providers. It would expand access to nearly all children under age 6—including through providing universal preschool—increase wages for providers and their staff, and make needed care investments in all states.

One provision of the bill, the Building an Affordable System for Early Education (BASE) grants, is new this Congress. It is a grant program to provide funding to all states, the District of Columbia, and all tribes and territories, without requiring additional state match funds. It aims to make child care more accessible for families and better support providers.

>> Read the full fact sheet here. 

This statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). 

Washington, D.C., April 27, 2023—Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced a reimagined and strengthened Child Care for Working Families Act to address the care crisis plaguing the nation. For far too long, children, families, and providers have had to bear the burden of the broken child care sector. And the systemic racism and sexism that’s been part of the history of child care persist to this day in harming groups that have been historically marginalized. It’s beyond time to flip that script and meet the needs of all families, including those who have been excluded and harmed by policies and systems that leave millions of hardworking families unsupported. This bill begins to right those wrongs.  

Currently, only 1 in 6 eligible children receive child care assistance. This bill would increase access in a big way—making more children eligible and guaranteeing care for children under 6 with a parent(s) who participates in a qualifying activity. It would also boost provider wages and supports, as well as provide resources for more accessible career pathways to help expand the child care provider workforce. The two very critical pieces of the puzzle—access for families and support for providers—are often pitted against one another at the state level due to limited federal support.  

This bill would help eliminate the tensions states constantly experience, where nearly every positive policy improvement comes at the expense of something else valuable. By providing Building an Affordable System for Early Education (BASE) grants to all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia, this bill would set providers and states up for success by allocating funds to every state to support child care providers, increase worker pay, and improve access for families. The bill also encompasses universal preschool, including Head Start agencies—initiatives that have proven their value in red and blue states alike. Finally, the bill provides funding to improve the duration of the Head Start program and better align it with need throughout the country. 

The well-designed federal child care investments embodied in the Child Care for Working Families Act are a no-brainer. The lack of affordable, high-quality child care has limited our country’s economic potential and wellbeing for generations. The bill would improve lifelong outcomes for children and increase education, employment, and earnings among their caregivers—including both parents and child care professionals. It’s time for Congress to turn this proposal into a reality. 

On April 26, Alejandra Londono-Gomez will speak at the Maryland Early Childhood Leadership Program about challenges in the state’s child care scholarship and how we can improve the child care subsidy program in Maryland and beyond.

By Alycia Hardy & Stephanie Schmit 

As concerns about economic recovery, unemployment, and inflation continue, significant and sustained increases—not decreases—in annual discretionary funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) remain critical. In response to those concerns and the fragile nature of the child care sector after decades of insufficient federal funding, CLASP and other child care advocates across the field have called for a $4.38 billion increase in annual discretionary funding for CCDBG. When added to existing CCDBG funding, this increase would mean a total of $12.4 billion in annual discretionary funding. Under this proposed increase, CLASP estimates that up to 386,000 additional children could gain access to child care assistance.

The need for long-term and sustainable increases for child care remains ever-present—especially now, with most of the federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act expiring this fall and the remaining funds set to fully expire on September 30, 2024. CCDBG is a critical support for families with low incomes. Without access to assistance, many families would likely be unable to afford their current child care costs. As it stands, the program only served 1 in 6 eligible children in 2019 due to limited federal funding. The annual appropriations process is an important opportunity to increase federal investments in programs to respond to increased need and ensure funding keeps up with rising inflation. These increases allow states to make targeted investments in expanding access to care for children, reducing costs for families, and increasing wages for providers.

The following table—listing all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico—provides the actual distribution of grant year (GY) 2023 discretionary funds; the estimated distribution of the proposed $4.38 billion increase in annual discretionary CCDBG funding for fiscal year (FY) 2024; the estimated increase in funding above GY 2023 actual funding; and the estimated number of additional children who could be served with that increase. The increases in funding for states range from an additional $5 million in Wyoming to $482 million in Texas.

>> View the full report and analysis here


State  Actual Distribution of GY 2023 Discretionary Funds Estimated Distribution of Proposed FY 2024 Discretionary Funds  Estimated Increase from Actual GY 2023 Distribution to Proposed FY 2024 Discretionary Funds Estimated Additional Children Served by Proposed FY 2024 Increased Investment 
Alabama  $142,609,329  $222,706,828  $80,097,499  10,700 
Alaska  $13,260,771  $20,708,773  $7,448,002  360 
Arizona  $185,096,490  $289,057,192  $103,960,702  9,380 
Arkansas  $99,638,070  $155,600,469  $55,962,399  5,500 
California  $753,500,129  $1,176,708,599  $423,208,470  48,690 
Colorado  $84,322,763  $131,683,216  $47,360,453  3,520 
Connecticut  $54,523,163  $85,146,468  $30,623,305  1,880 
Delaware  $19,895,267  $31,069,579  $11,174,312  1,300 
District of Columbia  $11,883,837  $18,558,475  $6,674,638  330 
Florida  $441,113,418  $688,867,768  $247,754,350  25,900 
Georgia  $317,820,970  $496,327,278  $178,506,308  17,430 
Hawaii  $26,897,347  $42,004,425  $15,107,078  720 
Idaho  $44,718,419  $69,834,823  $25,116,404  2,810 
Illinois  $233,707,994  $364,971,678  $131,263,684  10,860 
Indiana  $171,467,643  $267,773,610  $96,305,967  8,090 
Iowa  $72,959,695  $113,938,004  $40,978,309  4,910 
Kansas  $67,235,470  $104,998,729  $37,763,259  4,700 
Kentucky  $140,087,611  $218,768,770  $78,681,159  9,500 
Louisiana  $141,504,238  $220,981,055  $79,476,817  9,000 
Maine  $21,418,590  $33,448,487  $12,029,897  1,020 
Maryland  $98,099,044  $153,197,039  $55,097,995  3,070 
Massachusetts  $99,909,733  $156,024,714  $56,114,981  3,240 
Michigan  $212,718,838  $332,193,819  $119,474,981  12,030 
Minnesota  $100,562,168  $157,043,593  $56,481,425  3,740 
Mississippi  $94,348,400  $147,339,820  $52,991,420  7,670 
Missouri  $150,588,278  $235,167,208  $84,578,930  10,610 
Montana  $19,982,100  $31,205,182  $11,223,082  470 
Nebraska  $43,765,096  $68,346,060  $24,580,964  1,960 
Nevada  $65,493,410  $102,278,229  $36,784,819  2,350 
New Hampshire  $16,264,699  $25,399,878  $9,135,179  890 
New Jersey  $147,878,694  $230,935,768  $83,057,074  6,730 
New Mexico  $66,533,555  $103,902,578  $37,369,023  3,160 
New York  $357,011,697  $557,529,743  $200,518,046  8,580 
North Carolina  $235,784,820  $368,214,967  $132,430,147  7,710 
North Dakota  $14,277,486  $22,296,533  $8,019,047  730 
Ohio  $272,731,543  $425,913,068  $153,181,525  15,180 
Oklahoma  $121,009,871  $188,975,888  $67,966,017  6,340 
Oregon  $72,388,389  $113,045,820  $40,657,431  3,120 
Pennsylvania  $243,242,551  $379,861,383  $136,618,832  16,140 
Puerto Rico  $48,996,165  $76,515,194  $27,519,029  1,640 
Rhode Island  $17,717,650  $27,668,889  $9,951,239  660 
South Carolina  $140,670,054  $219,678,346  $79,008,292  6,120 
South Dakota  $21,668,578  $33,838,882  $12,170,304  1,430 
Tennessee  $211,736,964  $330,660,469  $118,923,505  12,080 
Texas  $859,633,625  $1,342,452,694  $482,819,069  52,750 
Utah  $95,913,285  $149,783,634  $53,870,349  4,640 
Vermont  $8,986,530  $14,033,876  $5,047,346  240 
Virginia  $153,733,954  $240,079,674  $86,345,720  5,220 
Washington  $116,622,646  $182,124,548  $65,501,902  4,200 
West Virginia  $49,333,493  $77,041,985  $27,708,492  3,240 
Wisconsin  $112,457,640  $175,620,238  $63,162,598  3,290 
Wyoming  $8,924,631  $13,937,211  $5,012,580  620 
United States  $8,021,387,000 $12,400,000,000 $4,380,000,000 386,420


CLASP co-sponsored the Youth-in-Transition Policy Summit hosted by the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, which will take place on April 4-5.

By Christian Collins and Alejandra Londono Gomez

As children grow and develop, child care workers play a vital role in fostering learning and providing support in a safe and nurturing environment. High-quality child care jobs, where workers are valued and respected, benefit both workers and the children and families they serve. Child care workers are also essential to the broader economy, as children need to be cared for in a safe place when parents go to work, school, training, or meet other needs. But child care workers cannot provide adequate care if they can’t take time off when they’re sick, must care for too many children at once, or receive such low wages that they can’t feed their own families, among other issues.

Unfortunately, the United States has historically undervalued the child care workforce and failed to foster healthy labor conditions in this industry. In addition to more federal and state investments, strong unions for child care workers are part of the solution. This brief walks through some of the history and current landscape of the child care workforce, including which states have collective bargaining policies in place for home-based child care providers, who fall outside the traditional employer-employee bargaining model and lack a mechanism for collectively organizing and advocating for themselves. It also outlines how such policies benefit workers, families, and the economy, sharing successes from across the nation. State policymakers, child care advocates, and labor leaders can use these lessons to develop similar collective bargaining rights for these vital workers.

>> Read the full brief here

By Shira Small and Alejandra Londono Gomez 

While the process for finding child care is often difficult and daunting for families, the application for child care assistance doesn’t have to be. Families, especially those with low incomes—along with those who are Black, Latino/Hispanic, Indigenous, and immigrants—face significant challenges in finding care that is accessible and affordable. Once they find care, families must also navigate complex eligibility rules to find out if they qualify for assistance. The application process creates unnecessary administrative burdens not only for families but also for states.   

Obstacles to obtaining assistance vary by state since the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) law and its regulations and guidance give states flexibility in creating their own eligibility guidelines. Yet this flexibility, paired with limited resources that only serve a small portion of eligible children, has given rise to cumbersome processes requiring families to supply a long list of documents to be considered for assistance. It has also exacerbated racial and geographic inequities in families’ access to subsidies across states.  

The federal Office of Child Care (OCC) has created a new guide for state child care agencies on how to create family-friendly child care applications. This effort was informed by interviews with child care providers, regional child care assistance offices, families who applied for child care assistance, teams across the Department of Health and Human Services, and advocacy groups.  

In its guide, the OCC encourages states to simplify the content and format of child care assistance applications and makes the case that streamlining application and eligibility processes leads to better program integrity. Simplifying the application process is a key step in helping more families access subsidies and is just as important in broadening the eligibility criteria to serve the greatest number of eligible children possible. The guide includes suggestions such as:  

As we explain above, state child care agencies can simplify their application and eligibility criteria in meaningful ways. Code for America, a nonprofit civic technology organization, has released open-source Java code based on the OCC’s model application that states can use to make their child care assistance applications as user-friendly as possible. It is crucial for states to implement OCC’s suggestions to reduce administrative burdens on their agencies, make it easier for families to apply, expand access to care, and enable more parents to enter the workforce and support their families. For more information on how your state can create a family-friendly child care application and to see a sample application, visit the guide