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Political Landscape: Funding and Governance of Alaska’s Early Childhood System

Federal Funding: Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) & Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)
In 1990, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) was enacted to help low-income working families access child care. The CCDBG was reauthorized in 2014, with new requirements to improve the quality of child care programs and increase support for families and child care providers.

Today, child care across the country, including in Alaska, is primarily driven and largely funded by this federal child care law which supports families with children from birth to age 13. It authorizes the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program, funding administered to states, territories, and tribes for child care. To secure its CCDF funding, the State of Alaska maintains a required minimal match, which is a current investment of $3.5 million.

State-Level Governance and Planning: Strategic Plans and Advocacy Partnerships
States and territories are required to develop a 3-year CCDF plan that outlines how they will use the federal CCDF program to support child care policies. This plan also serves as a strategic planning document and provides a vehicle for data collection. States typically use support from the CCDF to provide child care subsidies to low-income families, invest in improving child care quality, and provide parents support in selecting child care to meet their family’s needs.

In Alaska, some of this work is provided by thread. As Alaska’s Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) Network, thread works closely with families to help them find child care, provides training and technical assistance to child care programs, and collaborates with policymakers and businesses to improve access to affordable, high-quality child care. In addition, thread houses and manages Alaska SEED and Learn & Grow, two statewide systems improving quality standards.

The Child Care Program Office (CCPO) within Alaska’s Department of Health, is an important partner in the strategic planning and implementation of child care programs. Additionally, thread participates on the Alaska Early Childhood Advocacy Group (AECAG) with Best Beginnings, Association for the Education of Young Children Alaska affiliates, the Alaska Head Start Association, Alaska Infant Learning Professionals Association, Parents as Teachers State Office, and All Alaska Pediatric Partnership. AECAG priorities focus on quality early care and learning, strengthening families, and community engagement and early literacy.

Child Care Aware of America: Child Care and Development Block Grant & Child Care and Development Fund Overview
All Alaska Pediatric Partnership: Alaska Early Childhood Environmental Scan