Be Child Care Aware: Statewide Program Assists Low-income Families With Child-care Costs

Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  4/19/2005 10:28:32 PM

News You Can Use For April 2004

The Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support is the lead state agency for the administration of the Child Care and Development Fund, which offers services to families and child-care providers in Louisiana.

And one of the largest programs the department administers is the Child Care Assistance Program.

"This program assists low-income families in paying for the child care they need in order to work or attend school or training," explains LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe. "The program serves more than 45,000 Louisiana children and provides approximately $7.1 million of assistance monthly."

Monthly assistance payments are based on the number of hours parents work or attend school or training, the family size and the household income, according to Gioe, who explains hours are charged to the program by the child-care provider.

"Child Care Assistance Program funds are available only to families who have children enrolled in Class A licensed child-care facilities, registered family child-care homes and school-based before- and after-school programs," Gioe says, stressing, "Not all programs accept children enrolled in the program."

You may be eligible to receive Child Care Assistance if you:

–Are responsible for paying child-care costs for children under the age of 13 or disabled children under the age of 18 that live with you.

–Are working or attending an educational or training program or receiving disability income.

–Have a household monthly gross earned income that fits within the guidelines for your household size. Those monthly income limits for household sizes are $2,101 for two people in a household, $2,596 for a three-person household, $3,090 for four, $3,585 for five, $4,079 for six, $4,172 for seven, $4,265 for eight, and $4,357 for nine.

Child Care Assistance applications may be obtained at your local parish/district Office of Family Support or downloaded by computer from www.dss.state.la.us.

To apply for the assistance program, complete an application form and return it to the Office of Family Support with copies of your four most recent check stubs, proof of any types of income, a statement from the educational institution you are attending, copies of Social Security cards for all household members, copies of birth certificates for all children in need of child care, proof of citizenship or alien status of children needing care and verification of disability, if applicable.

Gioe says the Office of Family Support (OFS) has up to 30 days to process your application after receiving it.

"A written notice will be sent telling you of the decision that has been reached," she says. "If you are eligible, you will receive a certificate for each child needing care.

"These certificates will detail the amount of Child Care Assistance payments you qualify for."

The certificates then must be filled out by the child-care provider and returned to the OFS office, and all payments are made directly to the child-care provider on a monthly basis.

"There may be a two-week to six-week lag between initial application and when the child-care provider is paid for services," Gioe explains, adding, "Your child-care provider may request that you pay child-care fees in advance until they begin to receive the CCA payments.

"In addition, the amount of CCA you qualify for may not cover all of the fees your child-care provider charges. So you are still responsible for the balance, if any, owed to the child-care provider."

For more information about Child Care Assistance, visit the Web site at www.dss.state.la.us/departments/ofs/Child_Care_Assistance_Program.html or

call (225) 922-3000.

The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

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Contact: Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor:    Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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