Child Care Subsidies under the CCDF Program: An Overview of Policy Differences across States and Territories as of October 1, 2015

Publication Date: August 1, 2017
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Introduction

Research Questions

  1. How do CCDF policies vary across States and Territories?

If a single mother earns $25,000 per year, can she get government help, or a subsidy, to pay for child care? What if she lost her job and needs child care while she hunts for a new one? If she is eligible for a subsidy, how much will the government pay, and how much will she have to pay out of pocket?

The answers to all of those questions depend on a family’s exact circumstances:

  • the ages of the children
  • the number of people in the family
  • income
  • where they live

Child care subsidies are provided through a federal block grant program called the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). CCDF provides funding to the States, Territories, and Tribes. Within the federal guidelines, States/Territories establish many of the detailed policies used to operate their CCDF programs.

This brief provides a graphic overview of some of the CCDF policy differences across States/Territories. It includes information about eligibility requirements; family application, terms of authorization, and redetermination; family payments; and policies for providers.

Purpose

The CCDF Policies Database tracks State/Territory CCDF policies over time, with hundreds of variables tracking policies related to family eligibility, application and wait list procedures, family copayments, provider reimbursement rates, other provider policies.  This brief serves as a companion piece to the project’s 2015 annual report (the 2015 Book of Tables), providing selected information about State and Territory policy differences using maps and charts.

Key Findings and Highlights

Key findings for State and Territory CCDF policies in 2015 include:

  • Twenty-six States/Territories require parents to work a minimum number of hours per week to be eligible for care based on work.
  • Initial eligibility thresholds for a family of three range from $838 to $5,279 per month. Twenty States use higher eligibility thresholds for families who are already receiving subsidies.
  • Twenty-nine States use higher tiered or accredited provider payment rates in addition to their base rates for care provided in child care centers.

Methods

The data in this brief are taken from the CCDF Policies Database, a longitudinal database of State and Territory CCDF policies.  Data are collected primarily from the caseworker manuals and documents used to administer the CCDF program in each State and Territory.  State/Territory administrators are also asked to review a subset of the policies annually to ensure accuracy of the data collection and coding.

Citation

Stevens, Kathryn, Lorraine Blatt, and Sarah Minton (2017). Child Care Subsidies under the CCDF Program: An Overview of Policy Differences across States and Territories. OPRE Report 2017-46, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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