COVID-19 child care family fees for 2020-21

The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued information regarding child care family fees for fiscal year 2020-21.  All family fees were waived for July and August, 2020.  Families should have received should have received a refund or credit for future services.  Families disenrolled by the contractor or who chose to disenroll because of family fees for July and August 2020 can be reinstated if funding and space are available without the need for additional eligibility documentation.  These families would receive priority and should be enrolled before any families from the agency’s eligibility list.  If the contractor does not available space, the contractor may attempt to transfer enrollment to another contractor who has availability and, if not possible, refer the family to the local Resource and Referral program.

Family fees are waived for September, 2020 to June, 2021 for families where all children in the family enrolled in subsidized early learning center services remain at home for that month either because of closure of the facility when all currently enrolled children are not able to receive in-person services because of a public health order, or for families sheltering-in-place because of COVID-19.  Families whose children receive in-person services will continue to pay the family fee.

Families may at any time request a reassessment of family fees based on income or other changes.  This information can be used to reduce family fees but cannot be used to make any other changes unless requested by the family.  Family fees will not be adjusted for absences when the family is certified for full-time care, and intended, at the time of paying the fee, to use in-person services, but does not attend for all of their certified hours in a given month.

When a direct services provider must close unexpectedly, including because of a positive COVID-19 test, or are required to limit in person services in response to a local or public health order, the family should receive a refund or credit for their family fee.  If some in person services are provided, the part-time fees would still apply.

For families that have a delinquent family fee plan, contractors should have placed the plan on hold for the months of July and August 2020.  Families should not have been terminated for outstanding fees owed for those months or while repayment plans were on hold.  Families disenrolled by the contractor because of delinquent family fees during a period in which family fees are waived can be reinstated.  If funding and space are available without the need for additional eligibility documentation. If the contractor does not available space, the contractor may attempt to transfer enrollment to another contractor who has availability and, if not possible, refer the family to the local Resource and Referral program.

Delinquent family fee plans resumed in September, 2020 only for families attending in-person care.  Families sheltering-in-place or receiving distance learning services because of COVID-19 must pay outstanding fees or resume payment plans when the family returns to in person care.  (MB 20-19a, December 9, 2020.)

COVID-19 stage one child care provider subsidy

Child care providers who were open in July and submitted requests will receive a stipend check.  This includes providers who submitted requests for children who were not in care because of COVID-19.  Stipends are based on the number of children enrolled and the average per child cost based on the Regional Market Rate.  This means that providers in different counties may receive different stipend amounts.

Stipend checks were mailed in November.  A second round of stipends will be mailed after consultation with counties to determine if any providers may have been missed because of late form submission.  In counties that contract Stage One child care through an Alternative Payment Provider (APP), the APP will issue the stipend check with funds from the California Department of Education.  (ACWDL, November 13, 2020.)

COVID-19 child care guidance

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance and temporary waivers regarding Stage One Child Care and the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children because of COVID-19.

CalWORKs Stage One child care providers must be reimbursed for the maximum hours of authorized care, regardless of attendance, from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

Family fees for former CalWORKs recipients receiving Stage One Child Care continue to be waived through June 30, 2021.  Families who were disenrolled, voluntarily or involuntarily, because of inability to pay family fees from July to August, 2020 must be reenrolled without the need for any additional documentation.

Signature requirements for CalWORKs and the Bridge Program continue to be waived for the duration of the statewide emergency declaration.

Counties must reimburse for CalWORKs Stage One Child Care and the Bridge Program during the time school-age children participate in distance learning and are attending their child care program or are being cared for by a child care provider. This is because CDSS does not consider the child to be attending school while participating in distance learning for purposes of child care reimbursement.  (ACWDL, October 2, 2020.)

COVID-19 end of emergency child care and new enrollment priorities

The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued guidance regarding the end of emergency child care and child care enrollment priorities.  Management Bulletin 20-06A, summarized here, is rescinded and replaced.

Essential workers families, at-risk populations, and children with disabilities or other health care needs, could receive emergency child care through June 30, 2020, or for 60 days following enrollment, whichever is later.  SB 98 extends this emergency child care for an additional 90 days.

Beginning July 1, 2020, there will be an additional 5,600 child care slots for families previously enrolled in emergency child care.

New enrollment in emergency child care cannot occur after June 30, 2020. Families who were receiving emergency child care and were disenrolled prior to July 1, 2020 may be reenrolled before July 15, 2020 without needing to provide additional eligibility and need documentation.

Families enrolled in emergency child care prior to June 30, 2020 have priority for enrollment into ongoing subsidized child care over any other family on the contractor’s waiting list.

CDE strongly encourages contractors to reach out to any families disenrolled from emergency child care to allow them to reenroll before July 15, 2020.

Contractors must provide written notice to families receiving emergency child care after June 30, 2020 if they will be required to pay a family fee effective July 1, 2020.

To the extent possible, beginning July 1, 2020, contractors must begin to transition children who are in enrolled in emergency child care into ongoing non-emergency child care. Families certified for ongoing child care shall receive services for no less than 12 months. (Management Bulletin 20-14, July 13, 2020.)

COVID-19 extension of child care for families at risk

In All County Welfare Directors Letter May 4, 2020, summarized here, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) implemented extension of child care vouchers under the Foster Care Bridge program that would expire for 60 days because of COVID-19 until June 30, 2020.  CDSS has issued instructions extending this authority until August 4, 2020.  (All County Welfare Directors Letter, June 19, 2020.)

Updated child care income eligibility

The California Department of Education (CDE) has release updated income eligibility for state subsidized early learning and care programs.  CDE has also released the ranking table to determine a family’s income ranking for purposes of enrollment priorities for state subsidized early learning and care.  The new income levels are effective July 1, 2020.  (Management Bulletin 20-12, June 16, 2020.)