The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) is available for families facing crisis situations. The CCCAP helps those who are homeless, working, searching for work or in school in need of low-income child care financial assistance. These services are also available for families enrolled in the Colorado Works Program.
What Are The Child Care Assistance Programs?
The Child Care Assistance Programs are managed by the Department of Social/Human Services and the Colorado Office of Early Childhood, Division of Early Care and Learning in each county. The counties set their own eligibility requirements for child care assistance programs.
However, they must help families with an income of 185% or less of the federal poverty guideline, but cannot assist families with an income over 85% of the state median income. Once families are approved for child care financial assistance, they can choose the child or daycare provider they prefer. These providers however must be certified, and state-approved. Eligible child care includes licensed:
- Child Care centers
- Family homes
- A neighbor or friend
The state then pays for a portion of child care-related costs.
How Do Child Care Assistance Programs Work?
Families that receive child care assistance programs have the freedom to make child care choices that suit their needs and that will work well for their child. To make it easier to find suitable child care, the state maintains a database for approved child care professionals as well as information on how child care professionals and facilities can be licensed. Parents do have to pay a portion of the costs which are referred to as parental fees.
The service determines how much a family needs to pay based on gross income, how many family members live in the home, and the number of children requiring care. Some families with low-income parents or those in crisis are given vouchers to help pay the bills. Child care costs are paid directly to the child care provider as opposed to the parents. For the parent fees, if these are not paid to the child care provider, the child care benefits could end.
What Rates Will Child Care Assistance Programs Pay?
Child care assistance program rates are set by each county and are based on different area economic factors in hand with a tiered system set by the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). Each county cannot pay more than the private rates for the same services for the child care facility and sets a rate ceiling for the maximum rate they pay. The rate is determined by comparing the county ceiling and the provider rate with the lesser being paid to the provider. The county bases pay owed on the recorded attendance logged on the Attendance Tracking System (ATS).
As mentioned, once parents apply for child care assistance and receive approval they must select their own child care provider. An excellent choice for parents without a current child care option is to use the Colorado Shines child care search to find licensed providers that accept CCCAP. The county Department Of Human/Social Services must authorize care before parents can take their children to their caregiver of choice. If the county is not notified parents will be expected to pay the provider their full rate.
If a family’s eligibility changes due to improved work or completion of educational programs, they must inform the county within four weeks. This is especially important if wages become higher than the maximum allowed amount of 85% of the State Median Income. Changes to a family’s required hours of child care must also be reported.
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How To Apply For CCCAP
Families can apply for child care assistance online or by mail. Once the application is received, a child care worker will confirm hours and wages by calling the employer. Parents can provide written verification of courses or employment, but the information must be received within 30 days to qualify for benefits. Therefore it is important parents let their child care worker know when they can’t meet the deadline so the worker can take this into consideration.
Use The Attendance Tracking System (ATS)
To support accurate attendance reporting, parents and caregivers use the Attendance Tracking System (ATS). Parents must:
- Check-in and check-out their children every day they receive care.
- Confirm check-in/out times when they pick up their children on the Confirmation screen from the parent kiosk.
- Caregivers can use the Alerts screen for missed check-in or check-out times, or to approve transactions.
Times must be approved within nine days. Parents can find instructions for using the ATS kiosk here.
Pay Your Parent Fees
For parents that must pay parent fees, the rate is based on the family’s size and gross income. Parents pay their share directly to the child care provider, within the month children receive care. If they fail to make timely payments, they can lose their child care benefits. Child care providers have 60 days to inform the county if a family owes fees. Parent fees go towards the number of hours allowed through the CCCAP.
The child care provider cannot charge more than the county rate, even if their rates are higher. The only time extra hours can be charged by a provider is if parents exceed their authorized hours, or pick children up beyond the agreed-upon time. Parents receiving benefits are not expected to pay paid notice to child care providers even if the provider’s usual parental agreements require it.
Moving From One County To Another
Parents receiving benefits who move to another county, do not have to report the move if it occurs within their 12-month eligibility period. However, once the 12-month period ends, parents must apply in the new county prior to their redetermination date. The family continues to receive their benefits until this time. One thing to note is that if the family wishes to remain with the same child care provider while living in a new county, that county might not have an agreement with that provider.
Therefore, parents should inform the new county of their move as soon as possible so they can arrange an agreement with the existing child care provider.
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