Reimbursement of TrustLine registration for Emergency Child Care Bridge Program

The Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children is designed to reduce child care barriers for children and parenting youth in the foster care system.  TrustLine is California’s registry of licensed-exempt childcare providers who have completed a criminal background screening and clearance process.

Before a licensed exempt provider can care for a Bridge Program eligible child, the provider must be registered on TrustLine.  Bridge Program caregiver families and county welfare departments can now reimburse license-exempt providers for TrustLine costs.  A total of $15,000 is available in Fiscal Year 2020-21, and $16,000 is anticipated to be available for Fiscal Year 2021-22.  (ACWDL, April 20, 2021.)

Child care portal

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) provides information regarding the Stage One child care immediate and continuous eligibility monthly data report and online summary screen.  This child care portal contains current individual family data needed to enroll a family in CalWORKs Child Care services or transfer between stages.

Counties are required to share information necessary for the administration of CalWORKs and child care programs with local contractors providing CalWORKs child care services.  Counties must provide limited access to the welfare department computer systems to child care contractors, including a single summary page containing individual family data needed to enroll a family in CalWORKs child care or transfer a family between stages.  Counties must also provide Stage Two contractors a report monthly of all families for whom CalWORKs has been discontinued, the parent/caretaker relative has not received aid for at least one month, and the parent/caretaker relative has children in the home who are eligible for child care services.

Counties must give child care portal access to Alternative Payment Providers and/or other contractors providing CalWORKs child care services.  (ACIN I-20-21, January 29, 2021.)

Immediate and continuous child care questions and answers

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued questions and answers about Stage One immediate and continuous child care.

Participants who have children under age 6 and are required to participate in Welfare to Work (WTW) for 20 hours per week can receive full time child care.

If an exempt volunteer does not sign a WTW plan and child care is discontinued, when the exemption ends and the client becomes a mandatory participant, counties must give the participant 30 days to secure child care before participation is mandatory.

A mandatory WTW participant who has been authorized for 12 months of State One child care and who later becomes exempt continues to be eligible for child care for the remainder of the 12- month period, regardless of whether they intend to participate as a volunteer.  The only time an exempt client can have their child care discontinued is when they begin receiving child care based on intent to participate but then do not sign a WTW plan.

CalWORKs applicants and recipients must be given a written notice at the time of application and when they sign a WTW plan, informing them of the availability of paid child care and of assistance in finding a provider.

If a client verbally confirms that they have secured child care within 30 days of the date of authorization, the participant can verify child care has been secured through an email, text message, phone call or other communication to the county.

Former CalWORKs recipients can be eligible to receive Stage One child care if no more than 24 months have passed since the former recipient left cash aid.  Former recipients sanctioned before October 1, 2019 who have received CalWORKs in the past 24 months, must express an intent to cure the sanction to be eligible for Stage One child care.

Long term sanctioned CalWORKs participants who express an intent to cure their sanction may get Stage One child care if they are otherwise eligible.  If the participant is already receiving Stage Two or Stage Three child care, may continue to receive services through Stage Two or Stage Three.

Clients with time on their CalWORKs time on aid clock and are engaged in WTW are eligible for Stage One, even if there is another parent in the home.

Immediate and continuous child care is authorized for twelve months, even if the parent stops participating in WTW.

Counties cannot mandate attendance at orientation or appraisal prior to confirmation that the client has secured child care.

Counties must continue to provide child care when an exempt volunteer is not participating in the activity in their WTW plan.  (ACIN I-09-21, January 25, 2021.)

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.)