Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)

CCDF is a federal and state partnership program authorized under the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) and administered by states, territories, and tribes with funding and support from the Administration for Children and Families Office of Child Care. States use CCDF to provide financial assistance to low-income families to access child care. The CCDF program helps fund child care assistance for 1.4 million children under age 13 each month. In addition, states use the CCDF to invest in quality to benefit millions more children by building the skills and qualifications of the teacher workforce, supporting child care programs to achieve higher standards, and providing consumer education to help parents select child care that meets their families’ needs.

Early Head Start

A federal subsidy program for pregnant women and children birth to age three that provides family-centered services for low-income families with very young children. Early Head Start programs provide similar services as preschool Head Start programs, but are tailored to serve the unique needs of infants and toddlers, with a focus on promoting physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. Early Head Start programs also support parents, both mothers and fathers, in their role as primary caregivers and teachers of their children.


The criteria or conditions that determine whether individuals or families qualify for funded programs such as Early Head Start and Head Start and financial assistance programs such CCDF subsidy. Eligibility for these programs is often determined based on factors such as child age, household income, and household labor force participation (or employment) status. The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and income thresholds based on State Median Income (SMI) are commonly used measures to assess eligibility for subsidy programs and benefits.

Federal Poverty Level (FPL) 

A measure of income issued every year by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Federal poverty levels are used to determine eligibility for certain child care programs and benefits.

Head Start

A federal subsidy program that promotes the school readiness of children from birth to age five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development. The Head Start umbrella encompasses Early Head Start and Head Start programs. Head Start programs serve children between 3 and 5 years old.

Labor Force Participation 

Indicator to capture the status of working-age individuals who are either employed or actively seeking employment.

State Median Income (SMI)

An annual income figure representing the midpoint of the income distribution in a particular state. It is the income level at which half of the households in the state earn more, and half earn less.