Transfer from Stage 1 to Stage 2 child care

The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued instructions regarding transition from Stage 1 child care to Stage 2 child care. Stage 1 is child care for CalWORKs recipients participating in welfare-to-work activities.  Stage 1 is administered by the California Department of Social Services through county welfare departments or Alternative Payment Programs (APP) under contract with county welfare departments.  Stage 2 is child care for CalWORKs recipients who are found to be stable on the program or former CalWORKs recipients.  Stage 2 is administered by CDE through contracts with APPs.

Stage 2 contractors must develop efficient coordinated systems for transferring families from Stage 1 to Stage 2 to ensure that families do not experience a break in child care services.  The sending Stage 1 program and the receiving Stage 2 program are responsible for data sharing and coordination to ensure the transfer of the nine data elements needed for child care eligibility and payment.  Only those nine data elements must be received to transfer the family to Stage 2.  If the nine data elements are incomplete or are missing information, the family should continue to receive Stage 1 child care until the nine data elements are transferred.  The Stage 2 contractor cannot require the family to provide documentation to transfer to Stage 2.

When the Stage 2 contractor receives all nine data elements and informs the Stage 1 contractor that the nine data elements are complete, the family’s enrollment is transferred to Stage 2.  The family’s 12 month eligibility period for Stage 2 begins on the date the nine data elements are received and confirmed.  There is no need to for the family to complete an application for Stage 2.  Starting on the date the nine data elements received and confirmed, the Stage 2 contractor must assume full responsibility for reimbursing the provider and provide written notice informing the parent of the transfer.

Current CalWORKs recipients are categorically eligible for Stage 2 until they are certified no sooner than 12 months after transfer.  If a CalWORKs family would have their child care terminated for violation of a child care contractor’s reasonable policies, the contractor must notify the county welfare department about possible actions including transfer to Stage 1.

Families who transfer to Stage 2 as former CalWORKs recipients must report if their income exceeds 85 percent of State Median Income.  (Management Bulletin 18-05, August, 2018.)

Definition of homeless for child care eligibility

The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued instructions regarding the definition of homeless for purposes of child care eligibility.  Families who are homeless can be eligible for child care and development services.  CDE child care programs now use the definition of homeless in the federal McKinney-Vento Act.

The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youth as individuals lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime address and includes: 1) Children and youths who are sharing the housing because of loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;  2) Children and youths who may be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations; 3) Children and youth living in emergency or transitional shelters or are abandoned in hospitals; 4) Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; 5) Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; or 6) Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are children who are living in similar circumstances listed above.

To meet child care eligibility requirements for being homeless, families must provide either 1) a written referral from a legal, medical or social services agency; a local education agency liaison for homeless children; a Head State Program; or an emergency or transitional shelter or 2) a written parental declaration that the family is homeless and a statement describing the family’s current living situation.

To meet the need requirement for receiving services as homeless, the family must either 1) provide a written referral from one of the entities listed above or 2) a written parental declaration of homelessness supported by documentation of at least one need requirement which includes seeking permanent housing for family stability, seeking employment, engaging in vocational training, participating in an education program for English Language Learners, or participating in a program to obtain a high school diploma or GED.

Agencies should support homeless families by enrolling homeless families pending submitting eligibility and need documentation, allowing immediate enrollment of homeless families without immunization records and giving a grace period to submit proof of immunization, not requiring a fixed address or mailing address, conducting outreach to homeless families, and providing or participating in training and technical assistance on identifying the homeless and serving homeless families.  (Management Bulletin 18-04, July, 2018.)

Child care eligibility for parents in ELL, GED or high school diploma program

The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued instructions implementing AB 273 which makes parents engaged in English Language Learners (ELL) programs, high school diploma programs or GED certificate program eligible for child care and development services.  There is no longer a requirement that these educational programs be related to attaining a vocational goal to confer eligibility for child care.

Contractors should approve a family for child care and development services when the parent has a need for services based on enrollment in an ELL, high school diploma or GED program.  Once certified, families will be certified for have a need for child care for at least 12 months.  Families must submit written documentation of enrollment in an ELL, high school diploma or GED program to the contractor.  Child care hours should be based on the number of hours attending the program and reasonable hours for travel and study time.  (Management Bulletin 18-02, February, 2018.)

Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Children in Foster Care

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance for counties participating in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The Bridge Program aims to increase the number of stable, sustainable home-based family placements for children in foster care. Because one of the main barriers for placement of foster children is lack of access to child care at the time of placement, resource families, emergency caretakers, approved homes of nonrelative extended family members (NREFM) and parents who have jurisdiction under the juvenile court may be eligible to receive a time-limited voucher for child care and child care services. The program is opt-in at the county level, and funds are to be supplementary to existing funds used to provide child care.

The Resource and Referral (R&R) programs provide information and services to both parents and other potential child care providers. The R&R Programs must enter into a formal agreement with the county welfare agency to facilitate communication and the best use of Title IV-E funding sources. These services are available through Alternative Payment Programs which are funded by states and the federal government, and they are designed to aid parents in creating and accommodating care arrangements for their children.

The Bridge Program has three primary parts. The first establishes an emergency child care voucher or payment which helps eligible families pay for child care costs for foster children until the child turns 12, or 21under some circumstances.  Eligible families may receive a voucher when work or school responsibilities prevent them from being at home to care for the child, or when the family is required to participate in an activity without the child, such as judicial reviews, that are outside the scope of ordinary parental duties. These vouchers may be issued for up to six (6) months until the child is successfully transitioned into long-term, subsidized child care. If this is not possible, eligibility may extend up to, but not beyond, twelve (12) months, at the discretion of the county. If the family secures a subsidized child care placement before their enrollment period in the Bridge Program is set to expire, the family will cease receiving funds from the Bridge Program.

The child care payments may be made to the family or directly to the provider in accordance with Regional Market Rate guidelines.

The second part of the Bridge program is the Child Care Navigator provided by the county R&R Programs to assist families with finding a child care provider, complete program applications, and work with the parents to develop a long-term care plan. The Child Care Navigator is an employee of the local R & R Programs, and works with eligible families, child welfare workers, social workers, and the Child and Family Team (CFT) to assess child care options and provide information about care. Navigator services are available to any child in foster care, any child previously in foster care but in their original home, and any child with parents involved in the child welfare system.

The third part of the Bridge program provides access to trauma-informed care training, which teaches parents and providers about how to work with children in foster care. Also included in the training is information on best care practices and infant/toddler development.

Family eligibility for the Bridge program is determined by the county, which may establish additional criteria depending on local priorities. Eligible parties include resource families and families with a child placed with them for an emergency or compelling reason, licensed foster family homes, certified family homes or NREFM homes, and parents who are under the jurisdiction of juvenile court (such as nonminor dependent parents).

Participating counties must ensure collaboration between the child welfare services program and CalWorks child care program administrators to share information, priorities, and child care plans. They must also develop and agree to plans with the local Resource and Referral Program to ensure that a child care navigator is provided, develop and use eligibility criteria in accordance with local priorities, and distribute payments to eligible families. They must also ensure that the payment or voucher is in the correct amount and in accordance with RMR ceiling payment rates and collect and submit quarterly data and outcomes to CDSS. This data includes information on voucher eligibility and enrollment, type of voucher placements and care settings, and transition information, as well as the number of each type of referral and trauma-informed care training sessions held.  (ACL 18-80, June 14, 2018.)

End of requiring Social Security numbers for subsidized child care

The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued instructions that Social Security Numbers are no longer required to be collected from families receiving subsidized child care.  Social Security Numbers are no longer required for child care eligibility certification.  The CDE child care application has been revised to eliminate the Social Security Number field.  The privacy notice and consent form is no longer necessary and is not to be used.  (Management Bulletin 17-20, November, 2017.)

Digital child care applications

The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued instructions regarding digital child care applications.  Contractors can now use digital applications for families to apply for child care and development services.  Digital applications must include all legally required information.

Contractors can also use digital signatures if the digital signature meets all legal requirements.  Digital applications must meet state and federal requirements for creation and maintenance of electronic records.  (Management Bulletin 17-13, October, 2017.)