Federal Agencies and Programs

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The federal government contributes billions of dollars annually for ECE through funds awarded to states to administer programs. Some of the largest sources of federal funding for ECE are the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), the Head Start Programs, and the Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge grants.  Additionally, numerous ECE facilities are funded by the federal government, including Department of Defense (DoD) and federal agency–sponsored centers, such as the General Services Administration (GSA) programs. Aside from federally funded facilities, Head Start, and the CACFP program, federal regulations do not typically govern ECE facilities. State acceptance of federal funding for ECE does, however, require states to regulate ECE providers and facilities.

Key federal agencies that administer ECE funding and support related programs are displayed in this graphic, Key Federal Agencies and Offices. Understanding how federal funding streams and programs are organized and administered, including their specific guidelines, standards, technical assistance and training components, is useful for considering opportunities for state and local action to improve nutrition, breastfeeding support, physical activity, and screen time in ECE through policy and practice change.