Section C Understanding Client Eligibility
The Child Care Subsidy program helps low income families afford the cost of quality child care while the parent(s) or caretaker(s) works, and/or completes their education or training activities. Subsidized child care may also be provided to help prevent neglect, abuse or exploitation of children. With the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the primary funding source for the Child Care Subsidy program, states are required to focus on the goal of healthy child development and school readiness in addition to helping families become self-supporting. To accomplish this, DHS has revised policy so that most families are approved for 12 month periods which allows for continuity of care and stability of child care placement.
Steps That Must Be Taken Before a Child Care Subsidy Payment Can Be Made
The parent, guardian, or caretaker applies for child care benefits by contacting the local county DHS office or applying online at www.OKDHSLive.org.
However, before a decision can be made, the person must:
- be interviewed, and sign an application;
- provide all verification necessary to determine his or her eligibility for child care benefits (this will include providing proof of household income and the client’s work, school, or training schedule); and
- provide the name of the contracted provider he or she wishes to use.
When a request is made for child care benefits in person, the client will be issued an EBT card if they do not already have one for other DHS benefits. If the client already has an EBT card, it will be linked to the EBT Child Care system. The client can also request DHS issue a card to one authorized representative.
If eligible, child care benefits will be approved beginning with the date the interview is completed and all necessary proof is received in the county office. If the applicant cannot make him or herself available for the interview, an authorized representative can be named by the client to complete the process on his or her behalf. Neither you, as the child care provider, nor any of your employees can be an authorized representative for parents whose children attend your facility.
Choice of provider
Clients learn about contracted child care providers by:
- getting a list from their worker;
- accessing the Child Care Locator; or
- calling Oklahoma Child Care Resource and Referral Association at 1-888-962-2772.
Clients approved to receive subsidy payments are free to select any DHS-contracted child care home or center that best meets the needs of the family with certain exceptions. Care can only be approved at one location (contract number) per day. The client CANNOT choose a child care:
- facility in which he or she or his or her spouse, including the child’s parent or stepparent has an ownership interest;
- home in which the child resides;
- home in which the client works during the hours child care is requested (unless special written approval is first obtained from AFS Child Care Subsidy);
- provider who is receiving state or federal funds, such as Head Start, Pre-K, 21st Century Learning Grant, or public schools unless all parents are charged for the cost of care for the hours subsidy payment is requested and the program offers extended day services. Programs operating only during typical school or Head Start hours are not eligible;
- provider caring for a school age child during the regular school day when such student could be attending a public or private school during those hours; or
- center which is a one star facility unless there is no one star plus, two or three star center in the community or one of the special exception criteria are met. Special exception criteria are:
- the child was already approved for care at this one star center prior to the stars reduction;
- care is requested for a child living in the same home as the child already approved for care in this same one star center; or
- the client demonstrates that they do not have another child care option that meets the family’s needs and prior approval is given by DHS.
It is the responsibility of applicants to provide all information necessary to make an eligibility determination. Necessary verification includes proof of the need for child care, for example a work or school schedule, proof of all household income for at least the last 30 days and the name of the child care provider the family intends to use. The request may be denied if all necessary verification isn’t provided.
Child care benefits are usually approved for the following reasons: employment, school, training, TANF work activity hours, or for sleep time. The parent or caretaker can qualify for sleep time during the day after working night hours when a feasible alternative is used at no cost to DHS during the night working hours. In some instances, child care is also approved because children are deemed at risk of neglect, abuse or exploitation. Once approved, subsidized child care may be continued until the end of the current eligibility period when a parent loses a job or stops attending a training or education program. Childcare is never approved for transportation purposes only.
If the family is determined eligible, the worker enters the child care authorization data in the DHS computer system within two working days of all necessary verification being received. Entering this data into the system triggers notifications to both the family and the child care provider. The POS machine will also begin showing a message that says “approved” when the client uses their EBT card to swipe attendance. A child’s eligibility can also be verified on the Provider Web.
When eligible, most families qualify for a 12 month eligibility period. This means the child may continue to attend child care even when the parent loses his or her job. Continued eligibility allows the parent to search for new employment and for the child to continue benefitting from the child care program. Research shows continuity of care and stability of child care placement contributes to healthy early childhood development.
You can check authorization renewal dates on the Provider Portal by either clicking on a child’s name on the authorization list or by running a Provider Authorization Renewal Due report which is available on the report tab. This allows you to remind families when their renewal is due so that they don’t have a lapse in coverage.
Effective 03/1/19, the DHS Appendix C-4, Child Care Eligibility/Copayment Chart, has been updated.
You can review all Child Care Subsidy polices and the revised Appendix C-4 online at www.okdhs.org.
Provider Notice of Action
You should carefully review each Provider Notice of Action for accuracy. You will receive this when the family’s application for child care subsidy benefits has been approved. In particular, the notice should be checked to make sure the following are correct:
- action taken
- type of care approved – full-time, part-time, blended or weekly
- effective date of payments
- co-payment amount and effective date
- if an ending date appears on an approval notice, this serves as closure notice as well
If you find something that appears incorrect, you should immediately notify the family’s worker. The identification number for the worker/supervisor, plus the county and office phone number are shown on the notice of action.
DHS sends the following notices to providers:
This is sent to notify the provider that a family has been initially approved to receive child care subsidy benefits or has been reopened following a closure.
This provides notification of any change in an existing case. The change can include number of days of care or unit type for which their child has been approved, amount of family share co-payment, etc.
This provides notification that a child’s authorization is closing. The notice will indicate the last date when payment can be made.
When a child care application is denied and the name of the provider the client is using for care is known, a notice is sent to the provider advising of the denial.
DHS sends you information on all actions taken on cases for your facility in one consolidated notice each day action is taken. So, you may see all of the types of notices described above on the same consolidated notice. Please read them carefully.
You may also occasionally receive a “Client Notice of Action Taken” form which is sent when someone other than the client is paying part of the cost of child care directly to you. This form advises you how much this other person is paying to you and how much the client is supposed to pay you.