Release 79: Effective October 1, 2015
Child Care Assistance -
The Department of Human Services (DHS) child care subsidy programs are intended as a dual generational support for parents and children. Parents experience more success when their child care is stable and consistent and they know their children are in a safe and healthy environment. Children can thrive when they have access to quality care that nurtures their learning and development and better prepares them to succeed in school and later in the workforce. This helps reduce the achievement gap and end the poverty cycle. DHS staff work with Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) and other community partners to help families find and maintain safe, dependable, quality child care.
Central to DHS child care programs is the principle that families assisted by DHS have the same access to quality child care as other families. DHS child care assistance is more than a subsidy program for individual families who meet eligibility requirements; it is an investment in a child care system that makes access to quality care possible for these families. The program is designed to:
Several types of DHS child care assistance are combined to form the Child Care Program. Federal and state funding is used to create a payment system with uniform provider standards and health and safety requirements. The Direct Pay Unit (DPU) makes payments directly to the provider on behalf of the parents. Parents access child care assistance through the following sub-programs:
A common feature of all three programs is that, once the case is established, the provider is given a pre-authorized billing form in advance of the care being provided. Three conditions must be met before a billing form can be mailed to a provider:
Once all care for the billing period has been given, the provider completes the form, the parent signs it and the provider sends it to DPU. Payment is ordinarily issued within seven to 10 days.
DHS contracts with CCR&R agencies, which play an important role providing services to DHS clients. The services they provide include:
In addition to providing specific services for DHS clients, CCR&R agencies are a vital link with child care providers and child care programs in the local community.
There are two unions that represent child care providers. The first union is for family care providers that are licensed with the Office of Child Care of the Early Learning Division. This union is the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 75 (AFSCME). The second union is for family care providers that are exempt from licensing. They are represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 503 (SEIU). License -exempt providers are also referred to as license-exempt home and relative providers.
Training funds are available to license-exempt providers caring for children of families enrolled in ERDC and TANF. The training funds are offered to encourage providers to attend an orientation class and meet the requirements to receive the enhanced rate. To qualify for the enhanced rate, a provider must have completed at least two hours of training on Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect; be certified in Infant & Child CPR and First Aid; have a current Food Handler's permit, and agree to complete a minimum of eight hours additional training related to child care issues within the next two years.
Child care orientation classes are being offered by the local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies. The orientation covers the DHS listing and billing process, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and encourages providers to get additional training. The Child Care Resource and Referral agencies partner with SEIU representatives to coordinate and schedule orientations.
Stipends and scholarships will be available for license-exempt home and relative providers attending the orientation as well as for completing other classes that will help them meet and maintain the DHS enhanced rate requirements.
Please contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency if you have any questions.
Worker's involvement in providing child care services to families should focus on three primary outcomes:
The provider is stable and dependable. When the customer is at work, they are not worried about the care their child is receiving. If the child or provider gets sick, there is a back-up plan for providing care.
The child is in a safe place that nurtures children and encourages growth and development. The provider is someone the child can trust and with whom the child develops an ongoing relationship.
The customer and provider know what DHS will pay and what the customer is responsible for paying. The provider knows what they need to do to receive payment and who to talk to if something goes wrong. Documents are processed quickly so payment is not delayed. Both the customer and provider understand DHS listing requirements.
The primary role of the work in helping achieve these outcomes is to assess the family's need for child care and to act as a broker to the needed services, including the services offered by DHS.
If the family has a provider they are planning to use, assessment of the family's child care arrangements includes knowing who the provider is, whether they are eligible for payment, and asking why the family chose this provider. Was the choice based on an understanding of the importance of quality child care? Or was it based on short-term convenience and the need to find a provider in a hurry? Questions to consider asking include:
Assessment also includes making sure the family has the information they need to make an informed choice and to establish and maintain a good relationship with the provider. At a minimum, the family should be given the following:
Brokering includes helping families access resources outside DHS as well as resources available through DHS child care programs.
The most useful outside resource for help with child care is the local CCR&R. For families needing a high level of service, the worker should contact the CCR&R to see what can be arranged. Others may only need written information. In addition to the services described in Section 3 above, CCR&Rs can refer families to other community resources such as local training offerings, child care related activities, the USDA food program, provider and parent groups, etc. In some communities, the local CCR&R is also a link with employers who offer some child care assistance to their employees.
A critical part of brokering is making sure the DHS child care program and payment system works well for the family and the provider. Usually, this requires that:
For more information about the roles in child care for workers, Direct Pay Unit, Child Care Resource and Referral, and Background Check Unit, see Child Care Worker Guide #10.
For more information about case management for child care, refer to the Case Management chapter in this manual.