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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 6, 2010

Stimulus provided $2 billion in new funding for child care

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said that his administration "will provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families."

The broadest interpretation of this statement would be that Obama intended to create a federal child-care entitlement. However, Obama didn't indicate during the campaign that he would pursue such a sweeping program, so we'll assume that he actually intended to promise something more modest -- to promote policies that expand affordable child care to working families.

He did just that in the economic stimulus bill passed in February 2009. That bill included $2 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants to states, to "supplement, not supplant, state general revenue funds for child care assistance for low-income families." 

The fiscal year 2010 amount -- which is roughly in line with the administration's budget request -- was almost the same as was spent on the program for fiscal year 2009. In other words, the block grants were "flat-funded" outside of the stimulus allocation.

So, it remains to be seen whether the administration will continue increasing the amount spent on child care block grants in future years where there is no stimulus. Even so, an additional $2 billion -- roughly double the program's annual amount -- is a significant allocation. We'll re-evaluate this promise when future years' budgets are drawn up, but for now we'll give him credit for a Promise Kept.

Our Sources

Text of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Department of Health and Human Services, budget figures for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, accessed Jan. 5, 2010

THOMAS, text of the omnibus appropriations act funding the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies for fiscal year 2010, accessed Jan. 5, 2010

Interview with Eric Karolak, executive director of the Early Care and Education Consortium, Jan. 5, 2010

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