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CCDF Frequently Asked Questions in Response to COVID-19

Published: March 13, 2020
Categories:
Program Administration
Topics:
Emergency & Disaster Preparedness, States/Territories, Tribes
Types:
Guidance, Q&As

Last Updated: 11/13/2020


The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below are designed to highlight temporary, short-term measures that may be taken during the current public health emergency in response to COVID-19.

1) Can CCDF Lead Agencies continue to pay providers, if child care programs close and/or parents keep their children home due to COVID-19?

2) What steps should Lead Agencies take to ensure effective regulatory oversight of CCDF programs if there is a State, Territory, or Tribal government mandated curfew/quarantine/telework policy for Lead Agency staff due to COVID-19?

3) If COVID-19 results in increased child care demand (e.g., all schools close down and parents still need to work during the day), can the Lead Agency enroll temporary unlicensed care providers to serve additional children?

4) What types of contingency planning can Lead Agencies take, when evaluating how they will handle provider payments, family applications, and unannounced inspections if there is widespread outbreak impacting Lead Agency staffing levels or a reduction of available child care due to COVID-19 illness?

5) Can a Lead Agency use CCDF to pay for child care for children who are not currently CCDF-eligible (e.g., children of health care and emergency workers), and if so under what circumstances?

6) If a parent stops working or works fewer hours due to circumstances related to COVID-19 (e.g., voluntary or mandatory quarantine), how does that impact their eligibility for CCDF subsidy?

7) If a parent is not working after three months of continued assistance due to COVID-19 circumstances, how long can CCDF subsidy payments continue?

8) What flexibilities do Lead Agencies have to adjust families’ co-payments if they are affected by COVID-19 job loss?

9) For a child receiving a CCDF subsidy, can the Lead Agency pay two child care providers for the same time period—one provider that is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 circumstances, and a second provider (such as a relative) who is temporarily providing care while the first provider is closed?

10) What kind of populations can be included in the “protective services” eligibility category during the COVID-19 situation?

11) Does the Office of Child Care have any recommendations or guidance around the closure or operation of child care facilities?

12) Can Lead Agencies that directly operate child care programs (such as Tribally operated child care centers) continue to pay child care staff, if child care programs close due to COVID-19?

13) What options do Lead Agencies have when considering changes to CCDF policies and program requirements?

14) Can Lead Agencies provide "hazard pay" for providers that remain open and care for children during COVID-19 situation?

15) Should a CCDF Lead Agency count the $1,200 economic impact payments to individuals under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act as income when it determines eligibility and family co-payment amounts for CCDF or disregard them?

16) Can you clarify whether the unemployment benefits provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act should be treated as income for the purposes of determining CCDF eligibility and family co-payment amounts?

17) Are child care providers eligible to receive CCDF funding (e.g., sustainability grants funded from CCDF quality dollars) from the CARES Act in addition to other federal or state program funds (e.g., the Payment Protection Program from the Small Business Administration)?

18) Can CARES Act funds be used to upgrade IT or data systems?

19) Can Lead Agencies receive an extension on the date to liquidate FY2018 CCDF funds (including FY2018 funds obligated for tribal construction or major renovation)?

20) How does the FMAP enhancement as part of the Families First Act affect the state match for CCDF Federal Matching funds?

21) Can CARES Act funds be used for construction or renovation?

22) May Tribes use CARES Act funds to serve children outside of their service area (e.g., in adjoining counties)?

23) Are essential workers receiving subsidies funded by the CARES Act subject to the minimum 12-month eligibility period?

24) Can CCDF funds be used to purchase COVID-19 testing kits for use at child care facilities?

25) Can CCDF be used to pay for renovation of child care facilities, including family child care homes, to support COVID-19 safety policies and practices?

26) Do child care providers need to pay taxes on the CCDF CARES Act funding they received?

27) Can Lead Agencies use CCDF funds to pay for subsidies for school-age children who participate in remote, virtual, or online schoolwork while in child care? Note: Changes made on 11/13/2020 are italicized.

28) Can Lead Agencies pay full-time payment rates for these school-age children on remote learning days?

29) Can CCDF be used to pay for tutoring and academic support services?

30) Can CCDF funds be used to provide electronic equipment to child care providers for school-aged children to access virtual instruction while in child care facilities?

31) Can CCDF funds be used to purchase laptops or other equipment for children to access virtual schooling/resources from home?

32) Can CCDF funds be used to provide sanitation and cleaning supplies to families?

33) Can CCDF funds be used to pay the salaries of staff hired to assist with cleaning and health screening?

34) May Tribes expand their definition of an “Indian Child” to serve more children during the COVID-19 pandemic?


1) Can CCDF Lead Agencies continue to pay providers, if child care programs close and/or parents keep their children home due to COVID-19?

Yes, Lead Agencies can use or modify their absence policy to pay providers if programs are closed or children are absent due to COVID-19. At their option, Lead Agencies may pay providers based on a child’s enrollment rather than attendance (45 CFR 98.45(l)(2)(i)). The statutory requirement at section 658E(c)(2)(S)(ii) of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act requires Lead Agencies to support the fixed costs of providing child care services by delinking provider payment rates from an eligible child's occasional absences due to holidays or unforeseen circumstances such as illness, to the extent practicable. Lead Agencies may also use CCDF quality dollars to provide temporary grants or assistance to impacted providers to retain the child care supply during periods of closures.

The CCDF final rule at 45 CFR 98.16(aa) requires the Statewide Disaster Plan (or Disaster Plan for a tribe’s service area) to incorporate guidelines for continuation of child care subsidies and child care services, which may include the provision of emergency and temporary child care services during a disaster, and temporary operating standards for child care after a disaster. State, Territory, and Tribal Lead Agencies have broad flexibility to operate the CCDF program and have a number of options within federal statute and regulation to adapt policies in order to maintain continuity of services for families affected by COVID-19.

In addition, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act” (Public Law 116-136) was enacted on March 27, 2020.  This law provided $3.5 billion in supplemental CCDF funds to help State, Territory, and Tribal Lead Agencies address COVID-19 impacts, as well as some additional flexibilities for the use of those funds.  The supplemental appropriation under the CARES Act can be used, among other purposes, to provide continued payments and assistance to child care providers in the case of decreased enrollment or closures related to coronavirus, and to assure they are able to remain open or reopen.

2) What steps should Lead Agencies take to ensure effective regulatory oversight of CCDF programs if there is a State, Territory, or Tribal government mandated curfew/quarantine/telework policy for Lead Agency staff due to COVID-19?

Lead Agencies should follow their Continuity of Operations Plans (COOPs). The CCDF final rule at 45 CFR 98.16(aa) requires the Statewide Disaster Plan (or Disaster Plan for a tribe’s service area) to incorporate guidelines for continuation of child care subsidies and child care services. Lead Agencies have fiduciary responsibility to protect the integrity of the CCDF program funds. As noted in 45 CFR 98.16(cc), Lead Agencies must provide descriptions in their CCDF Plans of (1) internal controls to ensure integrity and accountability; (2) processes to investigate and recover fraudulent payments and to impose sanctions on clients or providers in response to fraud; and (3) procedures to document and verify eligibility, pursuant to 45 CFR 98.68. Finally, Lead Agencies must inspect child care providers for compliance with fire, health, and safety standards in accordance with 45 CFR 98.42. Lead Agencies unable to meet federal statutory or regulatory CCDF requirements due to COVID-19 impacts may apply for a temporary waiver due to extraordinary circumstances in accordance with 45 CFR 98.19.

3) If COVID-19 results in increased child care demand (e.g., all schools close down and parents still need to work during the day), can the Lead Agency enroll temporary unlicensed care providers to serve additional children?

Yes, Lead Agencies may enroll new providers to meet increased demand. Absent a waiver, Lead Agencies must require these providers to meet health and safety requirements. Specifically, providers serving children who receive CCDF services would need to meet requirements for health and safety standards, training, inspections, and background checks. However, Lead Agencies may apply for temporary waivers for extraordinary circumstances in response to emergency situations in accordance with 45 CFR 98.19. If approved, these waivers may temporarily exempt Lead Agencies from meeting health and background checks requirements. In order to request temporary waivers for extraordinary circumstances in response to emergency situations, the Lead Agency must submit a written request to the Office of Child Care (OCC) Director (with a copy to the OCC Regional Program Manager), indicating the reason why the Lead Agency is requesting the waiver including a description of the extraordinary circumstances. The request must also provide sufficient detail on the provision(s) from which the Lead Agency is seeking temporary relief and how relief from the sanction or provision, by itself, will improve the delivery of child care services for children and families. The request must also certify and describe how the health, safety, and well-being of children served through CCDF will not be compromised as a result of the waiver.

The waiver request must include the preferred start date (which may be retroactive to the time the emergency occurred) and the duration of the waiver. The request is limited to an initial period of no more than two years from the date of approval, and at most, an additional one-year renewal from the date of approval of the extension. Upon approval of a waiver request, Lead Agencies have 60 days to submit a CCDF Plan amendment to correspond with the provision(s) in the waiver request.

4) What types of contingency planning can Lead Agencies take, when evaluating how they will handle provider payments, family applications, and unannounced inspections if there is widespread outbreak impacting Lead Agency staffing levels or a reduction of available child care due to COVID-19 illness?

We remind Lead Agencies to develop emergency preparedness plans that contain guidelines for continuation of child care subsidies and child care services, which may include the provision of emergency and temporary child care services during a disaster, and temporary operating standards for child care after a disaster. State, Territory, and Tribal Lead Agencies have broad flexibility to operate the CCDF program and have a number of options within federal statute and regulation to adapt policies in order to maintain continuity of services for families affected by a disaster. It is important that Lead Agencies have a plan in place to perform essential functions and achieve programmatic continuity during and after an emergency or disaster for families receiving CCDF benefits. These essential functions include (i) continuing payments to child care providers serving children receiving subsidies; (ii) provisions for extending eligibility re-determination for families; (iii) communication with the licensing agency to ensure that licensed programs receiving CCDF funds are safe and operational; (iv) assisting new enrollees or preparing for an influx of families who may need assistance; (v) implementation of a waiting list if the Lead Agency does not have one, as appropriate; and (vi) tracking families receiving subsidies impacted by the disaster.

5) Can a Lead Agency use CCDF to pay for child care for children who are not currently CCDF-eligible (e.g., children of health care and emergency workers), and if so under what circumstances?

The Lead Agency has a number of options:

  1. Broaden the Lead Agency’s definition of protective services to permit emergency eligibility as a temporary, short-term measure. A child in a family that is receiving, or needs to receive, protective intervention is eligible for child care subsidies even if certain eligibility criteria are not met. Lead Agencies have the option to waive the income eligibility requirements for children who receive or need to receive protective services, if determined to be necessary, on a case-by-case basis. In emergency situations, Lead Agencies have the option of deeming certain impacted children—such as children of health care, emergency, or other essential workers-- to be in need of protective services and therefore, the regular CCDF eligibility requirements (e.g., income threshold) need not apply. This does not require a waiver, but could require a Plan amendment. It would be OCC’s expectation that Lead Agencies would employ this flexibility only on a temporary basis for the period of the public health emergency related to COVID-19.
  2. Use quality dollars to provide immediate assistance to impacted families/providers, even if they are not on CCDF. Such an expenditure could be viewed as a necessary to retain the child care supply during the public health emergency. This does not require a waiver, but could require a Plan amendment.
  3. Broaden/loosen any State-, Territory-, or Tribal-specific eligibility requirements for CCDF subsidies up to the Federal maximum allowed. For example, a Lead Agency could increase income eligibility up to 85% of State Median Income; many Lead Agencies currently have lower thresholds.  In addition, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act” (Public Law 116-136) was enacted on March 27, 2020.  This law provided $3.5 billion in supplemental CCDF funds to help State, Territory, and Tribal Lead Agencies address COVID-19 impacts, as well as some additional flexibilities for the use of those funds.  The supplemental appropriation under the CARES Act can be used to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus, without regard to the income eligibility requirements.
  4. Apply for a waiver to use CCDF funds to provide direct services to families who do not meet CCDF eligibility requirements (e.g., with income above 85% of State Median Income; see note above regarding additional flexibility regarding use of the CARES Act funds) and/or providers who do not meet CCDF health and safety requirements.  Lead Agencies could also apply for a waiver to establish eligibility periods less than 12 months to serve targeted populations (such as health care, emergency, and essential workers) that have a time-limited need for child care.

6) If a parent stops working or works fewer hours due to circumstances related to COVID-19 (e.g., voluntary or mandatory quarantine), how does that impact their eligibility for CCDF subsidy?

The Lead Agency may not terminate assistance for family impacted by COVID-19 prior to the end of the minimum 12-month eligibility period if a family experiences a temporary job loss or temporary change in participation in a training or education activity. The CCDF rule’s definition of temporary job loss at 45 CFR 98.21(a)(1)(ii) includes, among other circumstances:

  • Absence due to the “need to care for a family member or an illness”;
  • “Any reduction in work, training or education hours, as long as the parent is still working or attending training or education”; and
  • “Any other cessation of work or attendance at a training or education program that does not exceed three months, or a longer period of time established by the Lead Agency”.

Such temporary changes would not impact the amount of care the child would receive.

If a parent has a non-temporary loss of job, the Lead Agency has the flexibility to allow the child to remain eligible through the end of the redetermination period. If the Lead Agency chooses to terminate assistance before the end of the eligibility period, the Lead Agency would be required to offer a minimum of 3 months of continued assistance. Lead Agencies have the flexibility to establish continued assistance periods for more than 3 months.

Lead Agencies have the flexibility to determine which children qualify as receiving or needing to receive “protective services,” and could include families affected by COVID-19 circumstances in that definition as a temporary, short-term measure. A child in a family that is receiving, or needs to receive, protective services is eligible for child care subsidies even if the parent is not working or in education or training. For protective services cases, the Lead Agency has the option to waive the family co-payment (in accordance with 45 CFR 98.45(k)(4)) and may waive the income eligibility requirements on a case by case basis in accordance with 45 CFR 98.20(a)(3)(ii)(A).

7) If a parent is not working after three months of continued assistance due to COVID-19 circumstances, how long can CCDF subsidy payments continue?

Lead Agencies have the option to continue serving the child until the next eligibility redetermination, and may establish eligibility periods longer than 12 months. Lead Agencies may also establish periods of continued assistance longer than three months.

8) What flexibilities do Lead Agencies have to adjust families’ co-payments if they are affected by COVID-19 job loss?

The CCDF rule allows for copayments to be waived for families whose incomes are at or below the poverty level for a family of the same size, for children in protective services, or other criteria the Lead Agency establishes. This enables Lead Agencies to have the flexibility to define in their CCDF Plan the criteria that the Lead Agency believes would best serve subsidy families, such as families affected by COVID-19 circumstances.

As noted at section 45 CFR 98.21(a)(3) of the CCDF rule, Lead Agencies are prohibited from increasing the family co-payment amount within the minimum 12-month eligibility period (except for families eligible through graduated phase-out).

Lead Agencies may temporarily lower a family’s co-payment while the family is experiencing temporary or non-temporary job loss. However, when families resume work, it would not be considered an increase to subsequently raise the co-payment to the original amount, provided it does not exceed the amount established at the previous eligibility determination/re-determination.

9) For a child receiving a CCDF subsidy, can the Lead Agency pay two child care providers for the same time period—one provider that is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 circumstances, and a second provider (such as a relative) who is temporarily providing care while the first provider is closed?

While we support Lead Agencies’ attempts to stabilize child care supply and funding during the public health emergency, under existing law and rules, it is not allowable for a Lead Agency to use regular CCDF funds to double-pay subsidies to two different providers for the same child for the same time of service.  However, it would be allowable for a Lead Agency to use the supplemental appropriation under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act” (Public Law 116-136) to pay for both a closed provider and a new temporary replacement provider; the CARES Act specifically says that the supplemental funds can be used to provide continued payments and assistance to child care providers in the case of decreased enrollment or closures related to coronavirus, and to assure they are able to remain open or reopen.  This law provided $3.5 billion in supplemental CCDF funds to help State, Territory, and Tribal Lead Agencies address COVID-19 impacts, as well as some additional flexibilities for the use of those funds.  

It would also be allowable for the Lead Agency to use CCDF quality dollars to provide grants to impacted child care providers to improve quality and/or maintain the supply of child care.  Alternatively, a Lead Agency may seek a waiver due to extraordinary circumstances that would allow double subsidy payments to two providers for the same child and period of service. 

10) What kind of populations can be included in the “protective services” eligibility category during the COVID-19 situation?

Section 658P(4) of the Act indicates that, for purposes of eligibility for CCDF subsidies, an eligible child includes a child who is receiving, or needs to receive, protective services (in addition to children of parents who are working or attending training/education).  Lead Agencies have the option to waive the income eligibility requirements for children who receive (or need to receive) protective services, if determined to be necessary, on a case-by-case basis.  Furthermore, a child in a family that is receiving, or needs to receive, protective services is eligible for child care subsidies even if the parent is not working or in education or training. 

The CCDF regulation at 45 CFR 98.20(a)(3)(ii) clarifies that the protective services category may include specific populations of vulnerable children as identified by the Lead Agency. In instances specific to COVID-19, for example, the protective services population, at Lead Agency option, may include children  of health care and emergency workers, and other workers deemed essential by public officials—as a temporary, short-term measure. During the current public health emergency, these essential workers cannot work from home, and many of the regular child care arrangements for their children have closed.  In addition, many of these individuals are working extended or irregular hours, and under stressful circumstances.  As a result, the children of these workers are vulnerable during this time.  To ease service delivery to these children, Lead Agencies may choose to classify them as in need of protective services for purposes of child care subsidy eligibility.  Children do not need to be formally involved with child protective services or the child welfare system in order to be considered eligible for CCDF assistance under this category. The CCDBG Act references children who “need to receive protective services,” demonstrating that the intent of this language was to provide services to at-risk children, not to limit this definition to serve children in the child protective services system.  Including additional categories of vulnerable children in the definition of protective services is only relevant for the purposes of CCDF eligibility and does not mean that those children should necessarily be considered to be in official protective service situations for other programs or purposes.

In addition, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act” (Public Law 116-136) was enacted on March 27, 2020.  This law provided $3.5 billion in supplemental CCDF funds to help State, Territory, and Tribal Lead Agencies address COVID-19 impacts, as well as some additional flexibilities for the use of those funds.  The supplemental appropriation under the CARES Act can be used to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus, without regard to the income eligibility requirements.

11) Does the Office of Child Care have any recommendations or guidance around the closure or operation of child care facilities?

OCC recommends Lead Agencies to follow guidance established by local and state (or tribal) public health authorities regarding the closure or operation of child care facilities. In addition, Lead Agencies should consult the updated CDC guidance on child care and COVID 19:

12) Can Lead Agencies that directly operate child care programs (such as Tribally operated child care centers) continue to pay child care staff, if child care programs close due to COVID-19?

Yes, Lead Agencies may pay child care staff based on a child’s enrollment rather than attendance. This is consistent with the statutory requirement at section 658E(c)(2)(S)(ii) of the Act that requires Lead Agencies to support the fixed costs of providing child care services by delinking payments from an eligible child's occasional absences due to holidays or unforeseen circumstances such as illness, to the extent practicable.  For settings not directly operated by the Lead Agency, see FAQ number 1 above.

13) What options do Lead Agencies have when considering changes to CCDF policies and program requirements?

When considering changes to policies and program requirements, CCDF Lead Agencies have two main options for such changes: (1) Amend CCDF Program Requirements, through a Plan Amendment if Necessary, and (2) Apply for a Waiver for Extraordinary Circumstances, with subsequent Amendment if needed.

  1. Amend CCDF Program Requirements, through a Plan Amendment if Necessary: If the Lead Agency needs to revise some program policies, but would still be in compliance with federal requirements, they can do so without a waiver (e.g., expanding definition of protective services to accommodate impacted families; waiving copays for a portion of the caseload, etc.). A Plan amendment is required for any substantial program change (e.g., change in eligibility, rates, copays, etc.) and is required within 60 days of the effective date of the requirement.  A Plan amendment should not create any delay since the Lead Agency may proceed with implementing the program change, and subsequently submit the amendment within 60 days.
  1. Apply for a Waiver for Extraordinary Circumstances: If the Lead Agency needs relief from specific CCDF requirements (e.g., a reduction in 12-month eligibility for impacted families) due to the COVID-19 situation, the Lead Agency may apply for a waiver for Extraordinary Circumstances.  However, OCC reminds Lead Agencies that a waiver for extraordinary circumstances is only necessary if the change would not comply with federal CCDF requirements; otherwise, changes can be made through Option 1: amending requirements, through Plan amendments if necessary.  Examples of changes that would require a waiver include exempting providers from some or all health and safety standards, health and safety training requirements, background check components;  suspending annual inspections of providers; changing income eligibility to be higher than 85% of State Median Income; or changing the subsidy eligibility period to be less than 12 months. Upon approval of the waiver, the Lead Agency has 60 days from the date of approval to submit any associated amendments for the waiver.

14) Can Lead Agencies provide "hazard pay" for providers that remain open and care for children during COVID-19 situation?

Yes, Lead Agencies can provide hazard pay to providers that remain open during COVID-19.  We encourage Lead Agencies to take steps to assure that the hazard pay reaches staff actually providing care for those providers. Lead Agencies should ensure that payment practices for each type of provider reflect generally accepted payment practices in order to ensure that families have access to a range of child care options. Lead Agencies may consider additional policies that are fair to providers and promote the financial stability of providers in response to COVID-19.

15) Should a CCDF Lead Agency count the $1,200 economic impact payments to individuals under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act  or CARES Act as income when it determines eligibility and family co-payment amounts for CCDF or disregard them?

A CCDF Lead Agency should not consider the economic impact payments (up to $1,200 for qualifying individuals and an additional $500 per child) as income for CCDF eligibility or co-payment calculations.  These payments count as a rebate or advance payment of a credit that are exempted as income.  Section 103(d) of the American Taxpayer Relief Act amended the relevant statutory provision, 26 U.S.C. § 6409, and specifies that, “… any refund (or advance payment with respect to a refundable credit) made to any individual under this title shall not be taken into account as income, and shall not be taken into account as resources for a period of 12 months from receipt, for purposes of determining the eligibility of such individual (or any other individual) for benefits or assistance (or the amount or extent of benefits or assistance) under any Federal program or under any State or local program financed in whole or in part with Federal funds.”

16) Can you clarify whether the unemployment benefits provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act should be treated as income for the purposes of determining CCDF eligibility and family co-payment amounts?

CCDF Lead Agencies have the flexibility to decide whether to disregard Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits under the CARES Act as income or resources when determining CCDF eligibility and family co-payment amounts.  The CARES Act created three new temporary federally funded unemployment compensation programs to respond to the economic effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).  They are:

  1. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides benefits for up to 39 weeks to individuals who are not eligible for regular UC or extended benefits and who have been COVID-impacted with regard to their unemployment (minus any weeks of regular UC and Extended Benefits (EB) the individual received);
  2. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides up to 13 weeks of benefits, through December 31, 2020, to individuals who have exhausted their rights to regular state or Federal UC benefits; and
  3. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting regular state or Federal UC, through weeks of unemployment ending on or before July 31, 2020.

For the purposes of determining CCDF eligibility and co-payment amounts, a Lead Agency may treat the UC benefits from the CARES Act differently from the way it treats regular UC benefits. Lead Agencies also have flexibility in treatment of regular UC benefits. Lead Agencies should amend their CCDF Plan with respect to such changes.

Here is a link to the US Department of Labor’s webpage on UC benefits related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

17) Are child care providers eligible to receive CCDF funding (e.g., sustainability grants funded from CCDF quality dollars) from the CARES Act in addition to other federal or state program funds (e.g., the Payment Protection Program from the Small Business Administration)?

The CARES Act does not restrict child care providers from simultaneously receiving funding from the CCDF Discretionary funds and from other federal or state programs, such as the small business loan funds offered through the CARES Act. However, child care providers who receive ACF grants may not use grant funds for costs that are reimbursed or compensated by other federal or state programs, including the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Public Health and Social Services Emergency fund, or unemployment compensation. OCC notes that the availability of some program funds, such as PPP, have been inconsistent and the extent to which child care providers can access them may be limited. Lead Agencies have the flexibility to consider whether a provider has received funds from other federal or state programs in deciding how best to direct CARES Act resources, but are encouraged to support providers through this child care crisis.

18) Can CARES Act funds be used to upgrade IT or data systems?

Yes. Lead Agencies are permitted to use funds for the establishment and maintenance of computerized child care information systems, including data systems. In addition, expenses for this purpose are reported on the ACF-696 of ACF-696T CCDF Financial Reports under the non-direct services for systems expenditures, which are not subject to the five percent cap on administrative expenditures (45 CFR 98.54(b)(1)). Lead Agencies who receive ACF grants may not use grant funds for costs that are reimbursed or compensated by other federal programs.

19) Can Lead Agencies receive an extension on the date to liquidate FY2018 CCDF funds (including FY2018 funds obligated for tribal construction or major renovation)?

Without a waiver in accordance with 45 CFR § 98.19 (covering requests for temporary relief from requirements), OCC does not have the authority to provide an extension of the CCDF obligation and liquidation periods. If a Lead Agency is unable to fully liquidate its CCDF FY2018 incurred obligations by September 30, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are three options to consider.

First, Lead Agencies can consider “re-purposing” other obligations in FY2018 or FY2019.  CCDF funds allocated in FY2018 were available for obligation in FY2018 or FY2019.  If a Lead Agency obligated funds during that time on activities that meet CCDF requirements and were not charged to their FY2018 CCDF allocation, it could re-purpose those funds and instead claim the obligation against uncommitted funds for FY2018 and liquidate those funds in order to meet the liquidation deadline for FY2018.  Such action can only be taken if such re-purposing is allowable under the Lead Agency’s rules and if the funds being repurposed meet CCDF requirements and were obligated in FY2018 or FY2019.  Under 45 CFR § 98.67(a), Lead Agencies shall expend and account for CCDF funds in accordance with their own laws and procedures for expending and accounting for their own funds.

Second, if the Lead Agency is unable to re-purpose the funds or does not have policies to allow for this, the Lead Agency can request a waiver of the FY2018 liquidation period due to the COVID-19 for a specified period of time in accordance with 45 CFR § 98.19, requests for temporary relief from requirements. Your regional office can help provide support for submitting these waiver requests.

Third, Lead Agencies should review their own laws and procedures for expending and accounting for their own funds, and, where possible, proceed with the liquidation of existing obligations.

20) How does the FMAP enhancement as part of the Families First Act affect the state match for CCDF Federal Matching funds?

CCDF Federal matching funds are available to states, provided that states match those funds at the Federal medical assistance rate (FMAP). The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First; P.L. 116-127) added a temporary FMAP increase of 6.2 percentage points beginning January 1, 2020, and continuing through the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency period. This enhanced FMAP rate has the effect of decreasing the amount that states will be required to spend to claim their full CCDF match allotment. Additionally, FMAP rates are applied quarterly, which means that the original FY 2020 FMAP rates apply to CCDF funds received in Q1, but the enhanced FMAP rates apply to CCDF funds received in Q2, Q3, and Q4. FMAP rates and state matching requirements are published on the GY 2020 state and territory CCDF allocation tables page.

21) Can CARES Act funds be used for construction or renovation?

The CARES Act does not address use of funds for construction or renovation; accordingly, regular CCDF/CCDBG rules apply. All Lead Agencies may use CARES Act funds for minor renovations, as described in 45 CFR 98.56(b), but only Tribal Lead Agencies may use the CARES Act funds for construction or major renovations. As such, states and territories cannot use CARES Act funds for construction or major renovation. Tribal Lead Agencies must complete the full construction/major renovation application process and receive ACF approval (45 CFR 98.84). The application must justify that the construction/major renovation activity is for the purpose of preventing, preparing for, and responding to, COVID 19. Pursuant to the CARES Act language, CARES Act funds can be obligated in this fiscal year or the succeeding two fiscal years (by September 30, 2022). CARES Act funds (including those used for construction and major renovation) must be liquidated by September 30, 2023.

22) May Tribes use CARES Act funds to serve children outside of their service area (e.g., in adjoining counties)?

Tribes are limited to serving CCDF children within their service area. In order to serve children outside of the service area established by the child count and the CCDF Plan, a Tribe would need to submit a CCDF Plan amendment to change its service area, and the new service area would have to be on or near the reservation. In addition, Tribes would have to consult with nearby Tribes (if applicable) to ensure children in the adjoining areas are not being served by other Tribes.

23) Are essential workers receiving subsidies funded by the CARES Act subject to the minimum 12-month eligibility period?

The CARES Act does not address the minimum 12-month eligibility period for essential workers; accordingly, regular CCDF/CCDBG rules apply. Lead Agencies may submit a waiver to ACF to reduce the eligibility period for essential workers. Alternatively, states could provide quality grants to child care providers for supply retention and/or quality improvement activities to benefit the full range of families, which would make the eligibility determination process for individual families immaterial.

24) Can CCDF funds be used to purchase COVID-19 testing kits for use at child care facilities?

Yes, the CCDF and CARES Act funds may be spent on COVID-19 testing kits. However, ACF strongly recommends that Lead Agencies first consult with their jurisdiction’s public health agency, seek advice on how best to proceed, and coordinate any actions. Broader considerations could include asking:

  • Are there other local resources or options for testing?
  • Are available COVID-19 testing capacities meeting the needs of the community or would increasing testing in child care draw limited testing capacity away from populations with greater risk and exposure (e.g., health care workers and nursing home residents and workers)?
  • Does the plan for COVID-19 testing at child care facilities adhere to FDA recommendations (i.e., FDA-authorized equipment or certified operators administering and interpreting the tests)?

Testing capabilities vary among communities and may be changing often. ACF additionally recommends seeking funding outside of CCDF to increase testing capabilities for the broader community. One example is the Rural Tribal COVID-19 Response (RTCR) program established by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with CARES Act funds which allows rural tribes to increase their capacity to test suspected COVID-19 patients within their communities.

25) Can CCDF be used to pay for renovation of child care facilities, including family child care homes, to support COVID-19 safety policies and practices?

States and territories are restricted from using CCDF funds for major renovations but can use CCDF funds for minor renovations. Major renovation is defined as: (1) structural changes to the foundation, roof, floor, exterior or load-bearing walls of a facility, or the extension of a facility to increase its floor area; or (2) extensive alteration of a facility such as to significantly change its function and purpose, even if such renovation does not include any structural change. For example, building a new entrance to better align with CDC health and safety recommendations during drop off/pick up would likely constitute a structural change and would likely not be allowable. However, adding plexi-glass barriers to an existing entry way or entrance would likely be allowable.

Tribes, on the other hand, are permitted to use CCDF funds for construction and major renovation to prevent, prepare for, and respond to, COVID-19. The Tribal Lead Agency must request and receive approval from ACF prior to using CCDF funds for construction and major renovation. Additional instructions for construction and major renovation procedures for Tribes can be found in the Program Instruction (CCDF-ACF-PI-2020-02) on the OCC website.  Tribes may also use CCDF for minor renovation without prior approval.

26) Do child care providers need to pay taxes on the CCDF CARES Act funding they received?

The $3.5 billion in supplemental CCDF CARES Act funding is subject to the same tax rules as regular CCDF funding.  In other words, there is nothing in the CARES Act that specifically exempts CCDF CARES Act funding from taxation.  State tax rules vary by State.  Regarding Federal taxation, please contact the Internal Revenue Service for guidance. 

27) Can Lead Agencies use CCDF funds to pay for subsidies for school-age children who participate in remote, virtual, or online schoolwork while in child care?

*Note: Changes made on 11/13/2020 are italicized

Yes, Lead Agencies have the option to pay CCDF subsidies for school-age children for time in child care when the children are completing remote, virtual, or online schoolwork. Section 658M(b) of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act, 42 U.S.C. 9858k(b), and 45 CFR § 98.56(c) of the CCDF regulations prohibit spending CCDF for any service provided to students enrolled in grades 1 through 12 during the regular school day. Lead Agencies may interpret this provision (i.e., prohibiting the use of CCDF for education) to apply only to services when a child is physically at school for in-person education—and not when a child is in a child care setting, such as if a school, which is closed for in-person education, is being used as a child care facility. The closure may be a school-wide closure or for “off-days” of a hybrid model (e.g., a combination of in-person, virtual, and/or off days.) If a Lead Agency adopts this interpretation, it would be allowable (but not required) for a Lead Agency to use CCDF for child care services when children are completing remote, virtual, or online schoolwork or instruction while in child care.

However, under the CCDBG Act and CCDF rule, regardless of whether a child is physically at school or not, it is not allowable to use CCDF for any regular education services for which students receive academic credit toward graduation or any instructional services which supplant or duplicate the academic program of any school. Therefore, even if a Lead Agency opts to use CCDF to fund a child care provider’s caregiving and supervision of a child who is participating in remote learning, the Lead Agency cannot use CCDF to fund any instruction or services associated with academic credit or a school’s program. Furthermore, given finite CCDF funding to meet child care needs, the federal Office of Child Care encourages Lead Agencies to set parameters that restrict the use of CCDF for child care services during times when schools are open and children are able to attend safely in person. It would be reasonable, for instance, for Lead Agencies to prioritize services for, or even restrict eligibility to, families with children who are unable to attend school in person because of closures or health reasons over families with children who are able to attend school in person, but opt not to.

In addition, states may use CCDF to subsidize child care services for school-age children (up to age 13) that provide care and supervision in situations where schools are not otherwise providing in-person instruction and an outside source pays for instructional services that are delivered in-person in the child care setting.

OCC has not released specific guidance that addresses all possible scenarios related to categorizing regular educational services for school-aged children that would not be eligible for CCDF subsidies.  Some activities would be clearly unallowable like using CCDF to pay for teachers employed by the schools during the school day when the school is in session, but many circumstances in the COVID-19 context are more nuanced.  Where not addressed by OCC guidance, OCC will defer to Lead Agencies' reasonable interpretation of these decisions and encourages Lead Agencies to provide guidance to providers on implementation of this policy where they think it is useful.  OCC has no plans to mandate specific oversight or compliance measures on this policy.

28) Can Lead Agencies pay full-time payment rates for these school-age children on remote learning days?

Yes, Lead Agencies may pay full-time subsidy payment rates for school-age child care as long as the Lead Agency is not paying for time when a child is physically attending school and is not paying for any regular education services. Lead Agencies have the flexibility to define full-time and part-time rates.

29) Can CCDF be used to pay for tutoring and academic support services?

The dynamic environment associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for federal, state, and local policy makers charged with the administration of the CCDF program.  ACF seeks to support working families with quality child care options for children of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds that encourage learning in a safe environment while ensuring that that program resources are not duplicative of services provided by other entities, such as schools.  In an effort to properly balance these interests, consistent with statutory and regulatory restrictions on the use of CCDF for school, we offer the following:

A CCDF Lead Agency has the option to use CCDF to pay for tutoring or academic support services, but only if meeting all of the following conditions:

(1) The tutoring or academic support services occur within a child care setting as an integral component of the child care services (such as “homework help” or other learning components that have traditionally been a part of many afterschool or school-age child care programs).  Tutoring or academic support services that are stand-alone services or delivered outside of child care settings/services are not an allowable use of CCDF.  Child care services with a tutoring or academic support component that are funded through CCDF subsidies must be paid in accordance with the Lead Agency’s CCDF payment rates.

(2) The tutoring or academic support services do not occur during the regular school day pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 9858k(b)(1) and 45 CFR 98.56(c)(1).  CCDF Lead Agencies have the option to interpret this provision (prohibiting funding of services during the regular school day) as applying only to services when a child is physically at school—and not when a child is in a child care setting.  Alternatively, CCDF Lead Agencies also have the option of interpreting the prohibition as applying only during times when schools are open for in-person classes, since there may not be a “regular” school day during times when schools are closed for in-person classes. 

(3) The child cannot receive academic credit towards graduation solely for participating in the tutoring or academic support itself, pursuant to 42 USC 9858k(b)(2) and 45 CFR 98.56(c)(2).

(4) The tutoring or academic support services do not duplicate or supplant the academic program of any public or private school, pursuant to 42 USC 9858k(b)(3) and 45 CFR 98.56(c)(3), although the services may supplement or enrich the child’s education. 

30) Can CCDF funds be used to provide electronic equipment to child care providers for school-aged children to access virtual instruction while in child care facilities?

A: Yes, electronic equipment is an allowable use under CCDBG as an activity to improve the quality of center-based, home-based, or in home child care services provided for school-aged children (45 CFR 95.53(a)(10)).  Lead Agencies should consider whether there are more appropriate sources of funding—such as public education dollars—to pay for this equipment.  The purchase of such equipment may be more appropriate in circumstances where the child care provider will use it for additional technology-based learning or recreational activities in the child care program beyond virtual school instruction. 

31) Can CCDF funds be used to purchase laptops or other equipment for children to access virtual schooling/resources from home?

A: No, CCDF funds cannot be used to purchase laptops or equipment solely for the purpose of allowing children to access virtual school instruction from home.  CCDF funds provide financial assistance to low-income families to access child care so they can work or attend a job training or educational program, and provide resources for quality improvement of child care.  Therefore, there must be a connection to non-parental child care in order to use CCDF funds.  Lead Agencies should consider whether there are other sources of funding—such as public education dollars—to pay for equipment being used by children and families in the home.

32) Can CCDF funds be used to provide sanitation and cleaning supplies to families?

A: Yes, CCDF funds can be used to provide some sanitation supplies to families, provided that the supplies relate to the provision of child care.  For example, CCDF funds could be used to give packages of gloves and masks to families with the understanding that these materials will be used when parents drop off and pick up children from child care.  However, equipment, materials, and supplies that are not directly related to child care may be an unallowable use of CCDF funds.  For example, providing families with sanitation and cleaning supplies to use at home would have little to do with the provision of child care—and, therefore, would be an unallowable CCDF expenditure.

33) Can CCDF funds be used to pay the salaries of staff hired to assist with cleaning and health screening?

 A: Yes, additional child care staff or staff time to assist with cleaning and health screening is an allowable use under CCDBG as an activity to improve the quality of child care services and child safety (45 CFR 95.53(a)(10)).

34) May Tribes expand their definition of an “Indian Child” to serve more children during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Yes, Tribes may amend their CCDF Plan to change their definition of “Indian Child.”  While Tribal Lead Agencies have some flexibility in defining "Indian Child," the definition must be limited to children from federally recognized Indian Tribes, consistent with the CCDBG Act's definition of Indian Tribe (45 CFR § 98.2).  Allowable changes could include children who are Tribal members, whose membership is pending, who are eligible for membership, and/or are children/descendants of members.  This could also include adopted children, foster children, and step-children, etc.  In order to change their definition of an Indian child, a Tribe would need to submit a CCDF Plan amendment (see Program Instruction CCDF -ACF-PI-2019-03 for more information about submitting CCDF Plan amendments).  In addition, if the Tribe’s service area overlaps with other Tribes’ service areas, Tribes should consult to ensure the children in the adjoining areas are not being served by other Tribes.  Such an amendment, however, would not modify the Child Count.  There are only limited circumstances under which the Child Count can change.


The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

Last Reviewed: November 13, 2020