Child Care Family Fees changes

The California Department of Social Service (CDSS) has issued a Child Care Bulletin (CCB) to guide counties and contractors regarding the implementation of Assembly Bill (AB) 116. The bill authorized the restructuring of Family Fee Schedules and allows exceptions to the payment of certain family fees in the following programs: Alternative Payment Programs (CAPP), Migrant Alternative Payment Programs (CMAP), Migrant Child Care and Development Programs (CMIG), General Child Care and Development Programs (CCTR), Family Child Care Home Education Networks (CFCC), and California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Stages One, Two (C2AP), and Three (C3AP).

Families are exempt from paying fees if they meet the following circumstances: families with children identified as at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation; families with children who are receiving Child Protective Services; families receiving CalWORKs cash aid; families receiving Child Care and Development Services for Children with Special Needs; families enrolled in the Federal Based Migrant Program; families eligible for child care based on “experiencing homelessness”; and families with an adjusted monthly family income below 75 percent of the state median family income.

CDSS must establish a family fee schedule for families receiving child care and development services based on the most recent census data on median family income. AB 116 establishes that family fees cannot be based on the cost of care or the amount of subsidy payment. Family fees also cannot exceed 1 percent of the family’s adjusted monthly income. If a family’s monthly income is below 75 percent of the state median income, they will not be assessed a family fee. AB 116 also waives any family fees accrued but uncollected before October 1, 2023. However, child care providers receiving subsidies should not absorb a reduction in pay because of waivers or reductions of family fees.

Family fees must be assessed at three points: initial certification, recertification, and when a family requests a reduction to their family fees.

At initial certification, contractors will assess fees using the monthly certified need. For families with fluctuating incomes, contractors must allow families to provide up to 12 months of income information to determine income eligibility or calculate family fees. The adjusted monthly income from these households should be calculated using the average total countable income from at least two months. When a family’s initial enrollment is not the first day of the month, the contractor must assess a fee based on the certified hours for the partial month and another fee for the months after based on the certified need that is documented. If a change is made to the family fee at any point a written Notice of Action (NOA) must be issued.

Family fees should be assessed but not collected through September 30, 2023. Contractors should instruct providers to suspend collecting family fees during the period that fees are waived. Fee waivers are not permanent changes to statutes or regulations. When family fees are waived, contractors should reimburse the child care provided for the full amount without deducting family fees. Contractors should have policies in place to communicate the due date for payment of fees to parents.

Childcare and development contractors are required to report the amount of family fees collected and family fees that were assessed but waived.

Delinquent Family Fee Plans including outstanding fees were resumed July 1, 2021. However, families cannot be terminated due to these outstanding fees and families have the option to pay off any balance that existed before March 2020 with the amount paid being credited to their accounts. Additionally, counties and contractors can forgive family fees accrued but uncollected before October 1, 2023.  (CCB 23-22, August 31, 2023.)