The U.S. Senate gave nearly unanimous support Thursday to reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant program.
The legislation would toughen federal standards on child-care providers who accept subsidized customers by requiring criminal background checks and yearly site inspections. They would be among the first changes to the program since it was last reauthorized in 1996.
“The reforms in the bipartisan reauthorization passed today would improve program quality, safeguard the health and safety of children, and meet the needs of children with disabilities, among other improvements,” Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said in a statement after the vote.
Donnelly said more than 34,200 low-income and at-risk children receive child-care services each month through the block grant program.
The Senate approved the bill in a 97-1 vote, with Republican Mike Lee of Utah opposing it. The legislation would cost $16.8 billion through fiscal year 2020 if approved by the House and signed by President Barack Obama, according to the Congressional Budget Office.