Office of Child Care Encourages Continuity of Care Through Subsidy Policies
Oct 05, 2011
The Office of Child Care (OCC) released an Information Memorandum (IM) identifying policies and practices that promote the continuity of child care services and enhance the child care subsidy system. While the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) has long provided states with flexibility in developing and enforcing policies for their child care programs, this IM encourages states to adopt policies and practices that support the long-term success of children and their families through better continuity of care and reducing unnecessary burdens on families. States are urged to revisit their eligibility criteria and policies, as well as required procedures for families receiving subsidies. The OCC outlines a list of policy options that state lead agencies can integrate into their state CCDBG policies and procedures to best meet the needs of families in their states.
According to OCC, lead agencies can adopt the following policy options to increase retention of subsidy:
- Implement a 12-month eligibility period.
- Expand the definition of work to include job search.
- Account for changes in family circumstances by creating policies that consider fluctuations in families' economic circumstance such as tiered income eligibility and averaging household income over time.
- Allow retention of eligibility during temporary changes such as extended medical leave from employment.
- Provide coverage for child sick or vacation days.
OCC also outlines policies and practices that lead agencies can adapt to reduce administrative burden, including:
- Broadening information collection options such as allowing families to submit documentation by email or extended office hours.
- Coordination with partner agencies and organizations, including the alignment of CCDBG eligibility with that of other early education programs.
- Partnering with providers to assist with notifying parents of program requirements.
- Information sharing with other benefit programs such as document sharing across SNAP, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance programs.
Lead agencies can use these suggestions as an opportunity to evaluate their current policies and make changes that best support the continuity of care for children. CLASP has long advocated for continuity of care and believes the Office of Child Care guidance is a step toward better supporting children and their families through the child care subsidy system.