Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation to help ease the financial stress on child care providers across the country. Providers such as family child care homes, child care centers, Head Start programs, and after-school programs provide meals to more than 4.2 million children each day with the support of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
The Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act would increase the reimbursement rates child care providers receive for these meals. Not only would this help ensure millions of children receive nutritious meals, it would also ease the significant financial burdens for both child care providers and parents struggling to afford child care. Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Greg Landsman (D-OH-1).
“I have heard from too many childcare providers in Minnesota who have to dip into their own pockets to feed the kids in their care because of insufficient federal reimbursements. Investing more in childcare will help both families who are struggling to afford care and providers who are having trouble breaking even,” said Senator Smith. “This legislation would improve an effective, but under-resourced, existing program to ensure our kids are receiving nutritious meals and help ease the financial burden on childcare providers and parents.”
“Every child deserves access to nutritious meals, especially during their formative years,” said Senator Bob Casey. “The research is clear: the CACFP improves the quality of meals in child care settings. By easing the burden on child care providers, the Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act will ensure that children are receiving healthy and nutritious meals and are set up to reach their full potential.”
“Across the country, we continue to face an unprecedented shortage of child care workers, which will only worsen if providers don’t receive critical federal investment. Parents today depend on child care providers to meet essential needs, including proper nutrition, which is expensive,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “The Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act would address this crisis by getting long-overdue increases in reimbursements to providers so they can continue to serve nutritious meals to children. We applaud Sen. Casey for being a leader on this issue and introducing this critical bill.”
Because of insufficient reimbursement rates and outdated CACFP policies, many child care providers face financial barriers to participating in the program. This bill will increase the reimbursement rate so that a family child care provider serving seven children could receive an additional $475 a month or $5,700 a year in reimbursements. A Head Start program or child care center serving 100 children could receive an additional $600 a month of $7,200 a year in reimbursements.
To increase reimbursement rates, the Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act would modify the CACFP by initially increasing reimbursement rates for all eligible meals and snacks by 10 cents, after which the reimbursement rate will be tied to inflation. The bill would also eliminate the current two-tiered reimbursement rate system for family child care providers in which reimbursement rates vary depending on the level of local poverty and reimburse family child care providers for meals served to their own children.
This bill is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Fetterman (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).
The Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act has been endorsed by over 40 national organizations including American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA), and ZERO TO THREE.
Read more about the Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act here.