Confronting the Child Care Eligibility Maze: Simplifying and Aligning with Other Work Supports

This report from CLASP and the Urban Institute addresses two important challenges faced by low-income families eligible for child care assistance: burdensome administrative processes that make it difficult to get and keep child care benefits, and the cumulative challenges clients face when they try to access other benefits for which they are eligible (i.e. SNAP and Medicaid).

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), or Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), is intended to help defray the costs of child care for low-income working families with two main program goals: to help parents become or remain employed, and to support the safety and development of their children. These goals can be compromised, however, by burdensome administrative processes that make it challenging for low-income families to get and keep child care and other benefits.

Policymakers and stakeholders are increasingly realizing that these problems undercut the ability of CCDF and other work supports to achieve their goals-both for clients and for program efficiency. As a result, they are seeking a new way of doing business, one which focuses on improving client access and retention of benefits, service delivery, efficiency, and accountability.  This approach enables eligible parents applying for child care assistance to give their information one time, be easily connected to not only child care but also the larger package of benefits for which they are eligible, and be able to keep that package of benefits as long as they are eligible with minimal burden to themselves and to the state.

Confronting the Child Care Eligibility Maze is a product of the Work Support Strategies (WSS) Initiative, a multiyear effort that is working with a select group of states to help them design, test, and implement more effective, streamlined, and integrated approaches to delivering key supports for low-income working families. Through concrete policy ideas and examples from states across the country, the report offers an in-depth guide to help states not only simplify child care subsidy policies, but also align child care policies with other work supports. With this information, states can identify strategies to improve access and retention of benefits, while improving service delivery and reducing administrative burden.

Child care should not be a maze, and this new resource helps simplify access to the variety of benefits (including child care subsidies) that help support low-income working families in their efforts to gain economic security.