The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Administration for Children and Families (ACF) on Friday announced new quality and safety standards aimed at providing for higher quality care and safer environments for millions of children, including the youngest learners.

The rule, which implements bipartisan legislation signed by President Obama in 2014, sets higher standards for states, territories and tribes receiving federal funds through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program in important areas such as health and safety requirements; training and professional development for child care providers; and eligibility rules that better support working families.

Last year, the federal government provided over $5 billion to states, territories and tribes to help 850,000 working families pay for child care and to support quality improvements for providers that serve our neediest children.

CCDF serves approximately 1.4 million children each month, a majority of whom are children under the age of five.  The new rule protects the health and safety of children, helps parents make more informed consumer choices, supports early child development for our youngest learners, and enhances the quality of child care for all children, according to the HHS press release announcing the rule.

All children in one of the 370,000 child care settings across the country that participate in the federal child care program – not just those receiving direct child care assistance from the government – will benefit from new health and safety requirements, staff training requirements, and criminal background checks for staff.  In addition, CCDF quality investments can benefit all children in child care regardless of whether they receive federal funding.