Supportive and TANF Childcare

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

Supportive and TANF Child Care funds child care and early education for children with two different types of needs. The Supportive program funds children in the care of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The TANF portion funds child care for families involved with or transitioning from transitional aid to families with dependent children (TAFDC). TAFDC benefits are time limited cash assistance benefits for families with children, and pregnant women in the last 90 days of pregnancy.

Prior to FY 2016, these two child care subsidy programs had their own line items. They were combined in the FY 2016 final budget. Both of these subsidies are entitlements meaning that the state is supposed to provide a subsidy to any child who needs one. Although similar in this regard, eligibility and even the services provided (beyond the child care) are quite different.

For kids involved with DCF (Supportive Child Care), kids receive case management and other support services along with the child care subsidy. Transportation, or reimbursement for transportation, is also provided to those children who need it. Kids are eligible for a subsidy if DCF determines there is an assessed need for child care which would aid in protecting a child.

Families may be experiencing a high degree of stress and children in DCF care may have specific health needs. The needs of both the child and the family are considered when locating an appropriate child care placement. Supportive child care providers deliver comprehensive services which includes assessments of the child's emotional and developmental needs.

Child care can be requested by a family or recommended by a social worker. A determination is then made by the social worker and supervisor whether child care should be added to the child's case plan. Child care services are provided for 6 months and can be continued for a subsequent six months upon review. However, area director approval is required for continuation of services beyond 12 months.

The average number of children per month benefiting from this subsidy has increased over the past 3 years with around 5,600 kids receiving support each month in FY 2013, 6,200 kids during FY 2014, and just over 7,000 during FY 2015. However, some of our most vulnerable children are still forced to wait for a subsidy.

Families receiving TANF Child Care must first apply for TAFDC eligibility through the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA). Eligibility for the TAFDC program, determined by DTA, is based on financial and work related requirements. Families must have income and assets below required limits. On the asset side, a family must have countable assets valued under $2,500 to qualify. There are two income limits and both must be met for eligibility. The first is gross income (total countable income) and the second is net income (gross income minus deductions - an earned income disregard, and certain deductions for child care and work-related expenses). Gross income eligibility which for a family of three is $1,143, increases a little under $200 with each additional family member. Eligibility is measured at monthly intervals meaning a family which exceeds the income threshold in one month becomes ineligible for benefits.

Families must also meet work related requirements which stipulate how many hours must be spent working or looking for work, or in a training or education program. A single parent must meet the work requirement of 20 hours per week with a child under mandatory school age. The requirement increases to 30 hours per week for a child who is mandatory school age. Eligible recipients can continue to receive a child care subsidies for up to two years after leaving TAFDC as long as they continue to meet all eligibility thresholds.

The average number of children per month benefiting from this subsidy has decreased over the past 3 years with around 16,750 kids receiving support each month in FY 2013, 15,900 kids during FY 2014, and around 14,650 during FY 2015. This decline parallels an overall decline in the number of families receiving support through TAFDC. The TAFDC caseload has dropped significantly in the past few years from around 53,000 in the fall of 2013 to 40,542 in December 2014.

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