Child care is essential for families transitioning from welfare to work, as well as those of low income striving to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Appropriations by the Illinois General Assembly ensure that parents of low income have the supportive systems needed to gain and maintain employment. Funds support access to a variety of child care settings and impact the quality of services provided to Illinois children.
Child Care Assistance Program Overview
The Bureau of Child Care and Development is responsible for administering and reporting on the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) for the State of Illinois. This program is designed to provide families of low income access to affordable, quality child care. CCDF guidelines extend state agencies’ flexibility in developing child care programs and policies that best fit the needs of families. However, states must promote parent choice, make child care consumer education available, and provide quality supports for the child care workforce. The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is available to all Illinois families that qualify. Parents participating in the CCAP vary by ethnicity, age, marital status, educational level, and number of children in care. Children enrolled in CCAP are also diverse.
In Illinois, the CCAP provides child care for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years and for children with special needs who are 13 through 19 years of age. Families must be income eligible and either employed or in approved education/training programs. Teen parents pursuing high school diplomas or equivalent can also receive assistance. The CCAP has two primary goals:
- To support qualifying families of low income by providing child care subsidies, allowing parents to maintain employment or further their education, thereby decreasing dependence on public assistance.
- To allow families access to multiple options for affordable, quality child care and early education that offer children the opportunity to grow, learn, and be cared for in safe, nurturing settings that are culturally and developmentally appropriate.
Administration of the Child Care Assistance Program
- Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) Agencies.
In Fiscal Year 2007, DHS contracted with 16 Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) agencies that were responsible for determining customer eligibility for CCAP and approving payments to child care providers, both center-based and family homes. This included supplying CCAP information to families and providers, processing CCAP applications, determining eligibility and co-payment amounts, and processing provider payments.
- Contract Child Care Site Providers. DHS contracted with 57 agencies in Fiscal Year 2007, including the City of Chicago Department of Children and Youth Services, to supply site administered CCAP services. These fee-for-service contracts served children throughout the state ages 6 weeks to 12 years whose families qualified for CCAP. Site administered child care programs provided slots for children of low income in licensed center-based and licensed home settings, determined family eligibility for CCAP, calculated family co-payments and performed other administrative duties. Site administered programs submitted payment information to DHS for processing.
- Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program. Migrant and Seasonal Head Start is a comprehensive program serving migrant and seasonal farm workers, at or below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and their children. DHS contracts with seven agencies statewide to meet the needs of these families, many of whom are not aware of available services and speak little or no English. Ten child care centers provide full-day Head Start classes for 470 children ages six weeks to six years, parent involvement, and health and nutrition services.