WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTAJ) — U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has introduced legislation to address financial challenges faced by childcare providers across the country who participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

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 CACFP. The Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act would increase the reimbursements rates that child care providers receive for these meals, helping to ensure that millions of children receive nutritious meals and easing 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).

“Every child deserves access to nutritious meals, especially during their formative years,” Senator Bob Casey said. “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.”

Because of insufficient reimbursement rates and outdated policies of CACFP, many child care providers face financial barriers to participating in the program.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 and 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 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 the following 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)
  • Tina Smith (D-MN)
  • Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
  • Peter Welch (D-VT)

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Read more about the Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act here.