The federal government helps eligible low-income families pay for child care through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and Child Care and Development Fund. Federal funds are distributed to states in the form of block grants. Individual states administer and co-fund their programs and directly reimburse home-based family child care providers for the cost of serving eligible families. Many providers are related to the children for whom they provide care.
The National Labor Relations Act does not generally cover such independent, family child care providers. However, at the urging of unions like the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, several states have recognized family child care providers as government employees for the limited purpose of allowing them to be unionized under state public sector labor laws. Until the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 Harris v. Quinn decision ruled it unconstitutional, unions and states had the power to compel providers who declined union membership to nonetheless pay union agency fees as a condition of employment. The Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision expanded this holding to all union-represented government employees and required unions to obtain employees’ affirmative consent before deducting any dues or fees from their wages.
As of June 2018, nine states still forced independent child care providers to financially support a union by automatically deducting union dues from the TANF and CCDF benefit payments they receive on behalf of their low-income clients. There are approximately 10 states that forced home health care providers, who are similarly situated as child care providers, to pay union dues by automatically deducting fees from their Medicaid payments on behalf of low-income and disabled Americans. With the loss of agency fees and presumptive enrollment resulting from Supreme Court rulings, labor unions began an aggressive campaign to enroll more dues-paying members. In some cases, unions like SEIU have reportedly resorted to forging signatures on membership forms.
The amount of union deductions skimmed by state governments from family child care providers’ payments amounts to tens of millions of dollars each year. The practice redirects to unions funds intended to help prevent child care costs from standing in the way of low-income families maintaining steady jobs and earning a paycheck, making them less likely to need to rely on additional government support.
The Trump administration has options at its disposal to end these dues-skimming schemes and protect program beneficiaries. It could prohibit states from continuing to skim union dues from federal child care benefits or, at minimum, ensure that all providers paying union dues do so with informed, affirmative consent. To achieve this, it could deploy the rulemaking procedure detailed in the Administrative Procedure Act or have the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration of Children and Families issue agency guidance to states.
 For more information, see: “End Dues Skimming: Protect Home Health Care Providers” (State Policy Network), https://perma.cc/6HQP-MWQ5; Maxford Nelson, “Unions are Siphoning Medicaid Funds by Bullying Caregivers,” (Washington Examiner, May 10, 2017), https://perma.cc/7ZJX-KX96.
 573 U.S. ___ (2014).
 585 U.S. ___ (2018).
 Matthew Glans, “Research and Commentary: It’s Time to End the Skimming of Union Dues,” (The Heartland Institute, June 26, 2018), https://perma.cc/7H77-T7FP.
 Sean Higgins, “Fraud Alleged in Minnesota Homecare Provider Union” (Washington Examiner, March 4, 2017) https://perma.cc/6WAB-K33W; Caleb Jon Vandenbos, “Victim of Union Forgery Files Lawsuit” (Freedom Foundation, Oct. 1, 2018), https://perma.cc/M2RH-VK9M.