Bridge to Benefits - SD - Child Care Assistance
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Child Care Assistance
 
  1. What is the Child Care Assistance program?
  2. Who can get help from Child Care Assistance
  3. How does the Child Care Assistance program work?
  4. How do you determine the amount of child care assistance I will recieve?
  5. Will Child Care Assistance pay for my child care while I’m in school?
  6. How many hours may my child spend in child care each month?
  7. Who is an eligible caregiver?
  8. Can I pick my child care provider?
  9. May I use more than one provider?
  10. What if I have a child with special needs?
  11. How do I get an application?
  12. When will my assistance start?
  13. How long will my assistance last?
  14. How often do I need to reapply?
  15. Are there any resource limits for Child Care Assistance?
  16. Do I have to cooperate with the child support office to get a Child Care Assistance?
  17. Why does Child Care Services ask if my child is in Head Start or a preschool program run by the school district?

1. What is the Child Care Assistance program?
The Child Care Assistance Program helps families pay for child care while they work, attend school, or both. Eligibility is based on the family's gross income and household size. The family may be required to make a co-payment.

The Child Care Assistance Program is administered by SD Department of Social Services Child Care Services.  Click here to visit their website. 

2. Who can get help from Child Care Assistance
Child Care Assistance is for families with children under age 13 or up to age 18 for children with special needs. The family's income must be less than 175 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

You may qualify for child care assistance if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are working at least 80 hours per month and are within the established income guidelines. 
  • You receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and are in an approved work activity. 
  • You are a vocational/technical student in a two-year (or less) program and your school and work equal 80 hours per month.
  • You are a college student who works or attends school at least 80 hours per month or a combination of both.
  • You are a high school or GED student.
  • You are a licensed foster care family.

In two-parent households, both parents must meet work or work/school requirements. In addition, they must have at least a 30-day need for child care.

 Click here to see a household income eligibility worksheet.

3. How does the Child Care Assistance program work?
Payments are made directly to the child care providers, NEVER to parents.

Almost all parents must pay part of child care costs each month. This is called a co-payment or co-pay. Child Care Assistance has a sliding-fee system, which means families that make more money pay a higher co-pay than those that make less money. Eligible families receive a child care certificate that shows the eligibility period and amount of assistance for which they are eligible.

4. How do you determine the amount of child care assistance I will recieve?
Assistance levels are determined using a formula based on family size, gross income (before taxes), and the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Depending on your family income, you may be responsible for a co-payment. This co-payment will remain the same no matter how many children you have in care, the number of hours they are in care, or what your provider charges per hour.

If you fail to pay your share of the child care costs to the child care provider, you will be ineligible for child care services as long as there is an outstanding balance with your child care provider. However, if arrangements are made with the provider to make payments, and CCS is satisfied with those arrangements, assistance may be continued.

The monthly co-payments can range from zero to a maximum 7.5% of gross monthly income. 

5. Will Child Care Assistance pay for my child care while I’m in school?
Yes.  Students enrolled in post-secondary education are eligible for assistance as long as they are in class (or in class and working) at least 80 hours per month. If a student is not actually in class the required 80 hours per month, he/she will be required to work enough hours so the combination of work hours and class hours equals 80 hours per month. Child Care Assistance will NOT pay for child care for anyone pursuing education beyond a bachelor’s degree.

6. How many hours may my child spend in child care each month?
210 hours per month is the maximum allowed per child by Child Care Services.  However, monthly hours are calculated individually for each family, based on work and school schedules and the need for child care. A certificate will be issued for the number of hours per month for which you are eligible. You are 100% responsible for any child care costs after you reach the maximum number of hours on your certificate.

7. Who is an eligible caregiver?
Several types of provider types are allowed under Child Care Assistance program guidelines. They include:

• Regulated: Providers who are registered or licensed by Child Care Services. These can include family day cares, group family day cares, and day care centers.

• In-process: Providers who are in the process of becoming registered or licensed, who have submitted a signed application to the Child Care Services licensing worker.

• Relatives: An aunt, uncle, grandparent, great grandparent, or non-resident sibling to the child of at least 18 years of age.

• In-home: A provider at least 18 years of age who comes into your home and provides care to your children only. That person must be screened on the South Dakota Registry for Child Abuse/Neglect.

• Informal care: A family friend or neighbor at least 18 years of age who cares for your children only. That person must be screened on the South Dakota Registry for Child Abuse/Neglect. If you choose a relative, in-home or informal care provider, he/she will receive a packet with complete instructions.

Your child care provider must fill out and return the required forms before your application can be processed.

8. Can I pick my child care provider?
Yes. Your provider(s) must be an eligible caregiver as noted above: a state licensed or registered child care provider, a relative (grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, uncle, or non-resident sibling), an in-home provider, or a family friend who cares only for the children of your family. All providers must be at least 18 years old.

If your child care provider would like to become licensed or registered with the Department of Social Services, have them contact their local licensing office.

Click here to request a list of regulated providers.

9. May I use more than one provider?
Yes. But every provider must meet the requirements outlined under "Who is an eligible caregiver?" It is important that your Child Care Services caseworker knows how many hours each month your child will spend with each provider for your assistance to be figured correctly. Make sure to attach a sheet to your application, stating which children are at which provider and the days and hours they are there.

10. What if I have a child with special needs?
Child Care Assistance offers a higher reimbursement rate to child care providers who care for children up to age 19 with documented special needs. The higher rate must be authorized by your Child Care Services caseworker. Written documentation from a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, psychologist, psychiatric social worker, special educator, physical therapist or occupational therapist is required. Your child care provider must submit information as to the setting and care he/she will provide for your child.

A child who is under court supervision can also be considered “special needs”. A copy of a court order requiring child care must be supplied to Child Care Services.

11. How do I get an application?
To apply for child care assistance, complete an application available at any local office or from the Child Care Services office in Pierre.  To request an application:

12. When will my assistance start?
Caseworkers have up to 10 working days to process your application. If your application is received between the 1st and the 15th of the month, your eligibility for assistance will begin on the 1st. If your application is received between the 16th and the end of the month, your eligibility will begin on the 16th. Do not apply for assistance more than one month before your child care need begins.

13. How long will my assistance last?
There is no time limit for benefits. As long as you continue to meet the eligibility criteria, you can receive assistance with your child care costs.

14. How often do I need to reapply?
Certificates can be issued for up to six months. You will need to check the expiration date of your certificate when you receive it. In most cases, you will be required to reapply every six months. However, if something about your situation changes (your income, provider, job, address, family size, child care provider, etc.) you will need to contact your caseworker immediately, so that your case can be adjusted if necessary. All changes must be reported, in writing, within five (5) days of the change.

15. Are there any resource limits for Child Care Assistance?
No, Child Care Assistance does not look at your resources to see if you get help. (Resources include money in a checking or savings account and other things of value.)

16. Do I have to cooperate with the child support office to get a Child Care Assistance?
Many children face poverty when adequate child support is not available. Therefore, you are required to enroll and cooperate with Child Support Enforcement within the first six months you are on child care assistance. This helps to ensure that all resources available to the family are fully utilized. For situations where cooperating with the Division of Child Support Enforcement is not in the best interest of the child or family, an exception can be made with appropriate documentation.

17. Why does Child Care Services ask if my child is in Head Start or a preschool program run by the school district?
To ensure children receive a variety of early learning experiences, Child Care Services allows licensed or registered child care providers to bill for a maximum of four (4) hours per day while your child attends a Head Start program or a preschool program operated by a school district.