Child Care:

Federal Funding for Fiscal Year 1997

HEHS-98-70R: Published: Jan 23, 1998. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed how much money the federal government is spending on child care and for whom, focusing on the: (1) amount of federal funding for key child care programs for fiscal year (FY) 1997; (2) number of children served under these programs; and (3) programs' eligible populations.

GAO noted that: (1) in FY 1997, approximately $13.8 billion in federal funds was available for child care activities through 22 key child care programs; (2) over 80 percent of these funds is provided through five primary programs: (a) the Child and Adult Care Food Program; (b) the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit; (c) the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF); (d) Head Start; and (e) the Title XX Social Services Block Grant (SSBG); (3) four of the programs-the Child and Adult Care Food Program, CCDF, Head Start, and SSBG-are direct-spending programs for child care services; (4) the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is provided through the tax code as a credit for taxpayers who are working or are looking for work who have children or disabled dependents under their care; (5) the primary programs vary in the extent to which funds are used to subsidize the cost of child care as opposed to paying for other types of child care services, such as training or regulating child care providers; (6) in FY 1997, about 4.8 million children were served by 16 of the 22 programs identified in this report; (7) two of the five primary programs, Head Start and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, served 3.4 million children; (8) data on the number of children served by the other three primary programs are not readily available; (9) ten of the 22 key programs identified provide funds to children in low-income families, including three of the primary programs--CCDF, Head Start, and SSBG; and (10) funds for the remaining two programs--the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit--can be used by families of all income levels, although larger tax credits and subsidy amounts are provided for lower-income families.

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