Maryland’s Presumptive Eligibility Policy—and Other Innovations for Child Care Assistance
During the 2022 legislative session, Maryland’s state legislature passed the Early Childhood Development – Child Care Scholarship Program – Alterations and Study bill (Ch. 525 HB995/SB920). The legislation made several changes to the scholarship program that included 1) removing co-payments for families who also access other social services such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP); 2) removing the requirement to cooperate with child support enforcement by families applying for the child care scholarship; and 3) creating, effective July 2023, a presumptive eligibility phase for families, meaning that families will be able to use the child care scholarship right away, even while their application goes through a verification process.
The bill also instructed the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to conduct a comprehensive study on key aspects of the legislation to be submitted to the Governor and General Assembly by December 1, 2022. MSDE engaged with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) to carry out this study.
CLASP employed a mixed-methods research approach, gathering information from various sources, including individuals directly affected by these policies. Our approach involved:
- Engaging state and county administrators and leaders from four other states that have implemented presumptive eligibility policies and removed child support enforcement requirements.
- Collaborating with other state and national partners.
- Reviewing research and policy documents.
- Conducting focus groups with parents, caregivers, and providers across Maryland.
- Analyzing data.
CLASP conducted seven focus groups to identify common themes in experiences and concerns regarding Maryland’s Child Care Scholarship program, considering both parents/caregivers and providers. We translated findings from these focus groups and additional research and analysis into an extensive report, which we submitted to MSDE.
Other states may find this information useful as it addresses and assesses many policies—particularly presumptive eligibility—that may be useful to efforts to improve child care subsidies in your state.