The purpose of this manual is to outline the policies governing the Division of Social Services (DSS) Child Care Subsidy Program. This program is a collection of multiple federal and State grants, which the Division chooses to combine into one seamless Child Care Subsidy Program. Therefore, except where specific differences are noted, the policies contained in these pages apply as one uniform standard to all individual child care funding sources.
The Division created a seamless Child Care Subsidy Program to ease the decisions child care staff make and to make it possible for families to continue receiving subsidized care as long as they remain eligible. The heart of the seamless system is a common fee scale, a standard set of payment rates, and a funds account management system all built around a sophisticated information system. The Child Care Management Information System (CCMIS) is an important part of the Division's Child Care Subsidy Program. It not only supports the information needs of staff, but also manages their major policy concerns. Therefore, staff should use this Policy Manual in conjunction with the CCMIS User Manual to both understand and operate the Division's Child Care Subsidy Program.
The Child Care Subsidy Program Policy Manual is arranged much like the TANF Public Assistance Manual. The first section covers administrative functions, such as the purpose and goals of the program. The next section covers technical and financial eligibility for child care assistance. The third section covers application processing and the fourth section covers various items from parental rights and responsibilities to overpayments. The last section covers provider issues.
Each section is numbered in succeeding order, beginning with the 11001 series, e.g. 11001, 11002, 11003, etc. Policies which have more than one reference are numbered as follows: 11003 is the policy reference defining eligibility requirements, while 11003.1 refers to technical requirements, further defining eligibility requirements.
The goal of the Child Care Subsidy Program is to supplement the care and protection that children receive from their parents. This supplemental care is necessary when parents/caretakers must be apart from their children during a portion of a 24-hour day because:
E. an explanation of the State's payment rates and fee scale, including a discussion of how DSS assesses fees, where fees are to be paid, what happens if they are not paid, and how parents/caretakers are to keep DSS informed of changes that affect fees; and
DSS provides child care services to eligible Delaware families with children who need care and who are under the age of 13, or children 13 through 18 years of age who are physically or mentally incapable of caring for themselves or who are in need of protective services.
Under Title IV, Sections 401 and 402 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, the Division is prohibited from using CCDBG and SSBG funds to pay for child care services for most persons who are not U.S. citizens. At State option, the Division may choose to use State only funds to pay for child care services for such persons. Certain aliens are exempt from this restriction for a period of five (5) years from the date of obtaining status as either a refugee, asylee, or one whose deportation is being withheld. In addition, aliens admitted for permanent residence who worked forty (40) qualifying quarters and aliens and their spouses or unmarried dependent children who are either honorably discharged veterans or on active military duty are exempt from this restriction. For more detailed child care policy on citizenship, aliens and refugee’s see DSSM 3024, these policies apply to the Child Care Subsidy Program.
The Division can provide Child Care services for eligible families where there is at least one U.S. citizen, legal alien or qualified refugee in the family. If one member of the family is a U.S. citizen, legal alien or qualified refugee and he/she meets both technical and financial eligibility criteria, Child Care services can be provided. The Division will evaluate non-US citizen cases on an individual basis.
This policy must also be read in accordance with Section 11003, Eligibility Requirements. DSS provides a guarantee for certain forms of Child Care (Categories 11, 12, and 21). This guarantee means that eligible families will receive child care services under these programs. Eligibility for other child care services (Categories 31, 41 and 51) does not come with this same guarantee. Funding for child care services in these programs is capped. Though families may have an eligible child for whom they need care, and though families may meet other requirements of need and income, this does not guarantee that DSS will provide child care. DSS reserves the right for its capped programs to limit, where appropriate, its child care services based on available resources and funding.
F. Eligible families with a special need (either a child or parent).
The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is the agency designated by the State as responsible for Delaware's Child Care Subsidy Program. These child care services are established under the auspices of Title IV-A and Title XX of the Social Security Act, Public Law 101-508 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, and Title 31 of the Delaware Code. Within DHSS, DSS assumes day-to-day responsibility for the administration of child care. This responsibility includes, but is not limited to:
The Policy and Program Development Unit assumes primary responsibility for integrating all child care grants into one uniform child care program. This integration includes the development of common policies and practices to ensure continuity of services for all families participating in Delaware's Child Care Subsidy Program.
DCIS through the CCMIS assumes primary responsibility for the development and maintenance of systems designed to support the information needs of both field and administrative personnel. DCIS does this through the recording of client and child care provider data. In addition, the CCMIS provides administration with needed case management and administrative reports for management decision making and to meet federal reporting requirements.
The Delaware Child Care Subsidy Program operates under authority of both State and federal laws and regulations. The State grants authority under Title 31 of the Delaware Code. Federal authority is granted through Title XX of the Social Security Act, and Work Requirements under Section 273.7, Title 7, Chapter II of the Revised Code of Federal Regulations, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant as amended by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.
The State Law governing the Child Care Subsidy Program is Title 31, Part I, Chapter 3, Subchapter VI, Delaware Code - Section 391. Intent and Purpose. The intent and purposes of this subchapter of the State Law are to:
A. provide child day care facilities available within this state so as to provide safe, adequate, economical care for children whose mothers, fathers, guardians, or custodians are employed or are seeking employment or are enrolled in training or education courses or where this service would contribute to the resolution of family problems;
B. secure by decentralized neighborhood management the highest attainable degree of assurance that each child day care center will properly and economically meet the needs of those children who can make the best use of that service within their neighborhood under supervision of the Division of Social Services with that objective in view.
B. Title 7, Chapter II of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 273.7(d)(iv)(3)(i) states: “The State agency will reimburse the cost of dependent care it determines to be necessary for the participation of a household member in the E&T program up to the actual cost of dependent care, or the applicable payment rate for child care, whichever is lowest. The payment rates for child care are established in accordance with the Child Care and Development Block Grant provisions of 45 CFR 98.43, and are based on local market rate surveys. The State agency will provide a dependent care reimbursement to an E&T participant for all dependents requiring care unless otherwise prohibited by this section.” Such child care is provided as part of the State's Food Stamp Employment and Training Program previously known as First Step - Food Stamps (Category 21).
The purpose of child care services provided under SSBG is to provide support to families with young children in order for parents to work, obtain training, or receive an education. The program also allows child care to meet the special needs of the child or for the child's protection in cases of abuse and/or neglect.
Case Managers are to view Child Care Policy as an extension of the DSS Policy Manual. It is part of the whole. Therefore, policies on Administration and Fair Hearings contained in DSSM 1000 and DSSM 5000 equally apply to the Child Care Subsidy Program and the Case Managers who administer it.
The DSS Child Care Subsidy Program operates under the authority of different funding sources, with each source uniquely setting mandates for providing child care services to families. However, the Division combines these sources into one seamless program.
Seamlessness means that families can reasonably expect to continue to receive child care services with the same provider as long as families remain basically eligible (income and need) for services. Therefore, except where specific differences are noted, the policies in this manual act as a uniform standard for our Child Care Subsidy Program.
To be technically eligible parents/caretakers must have a need that requires them to be out of the home or reasonably unavailable to provide supervision (e.g., a medical condition, needing rest because of working a third shift, etc.).
Technical requirements relate to the circumstances which qualify a parent/caretaker for a specific category of child care funding. These circumstances help determine whether a child care need exists, whether DSS guarantees child care, whether DSS considers income, and whether the parent pays a child care fee.
DSS guarantees child care for a dependent child, or a child who would be dependent except for the receipt of benefits under SSI, when the parent/caretaker receives TANF benefits and it is necessary for the parent/caretaker to:
EXAMPLE 1: A child receiving TANF lives with her grandmother. The grandmother works and needs child care during her hours of employment. Grandmother is not on the TANF grant and is considered a payee only. In this case, Grandmother cannot get TANF Child Care. Because Grandmother has a need, however, she could be eligible for another category of care.
EXAMPLE 3: An TANF recipient with a dependent child is also a foster parent. In order for this recipient to participate in TANF, she needs child care. She can receive care for her dependent child, but because the foster child is not considered a dependent, she is not entitled to TANF Child Care (or other forms of IV-A child care) for her foster child. DSS could provide another category of child care under a Block Grant.
When TANF recipients receive a full family sanction or fail without good cause to comply with the Transitional Work Program (TWP), they lose their TANF Child Care. This means their child care case will close. In order to regain TANF Child Care, recipients must work to cure the sanction by cooperating with their TANF or TWP requirements.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that in-home child care providers be treated as domestic service workers. As a result, DSS must pay these providers the federal minimum wage. Paying the federal minimum wage would make the cost of in-home care disproportionate to other types of care. As a result, DSS has placed a limit on parental use of the in-home care option.
There is no child care guarantee with the funding sources which make up the income eligible category like there is with TANF and Transitional Child Care. Funding is limited by the amount of DSS' grant award. This means that DSS cannot serve all the income eligible parent/caretakers who have a legitimate child care need. Though families may be eligible, a lack of available funding will prevent DSS from authorizing service. DSS therefore, reserves the right to limit, where appropriate, its income eligible child care services whenever the demand for income eligible services comes near or matches available funding resources. DSS also reserves the right, under these conditions, to determine who it will serve, when it will serve them, and how it will serve them.
Parent/caretakers who are homeless and whose incomes are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level can receive income eligible services exclusive of meeting any other need requirement. DSS defines homeless as:
A. families living in a shelter or receiving emergency assistance to live in a temporary arrangement (an example of a temporary arrangement are those families receiving assistance to live in a local motel); or
B. families without a fixed address or not living in a permanent dwelling (examples of families without a fixed address are families living in cars or tents, excluding families who live with other families).
DSS will provide child care services to homeless families for up to three months or until the family is able to obtain suitable living arrangements. Once families have obtained suitable living arrangements, child care services can only continue if families have another need for service, such as the family needs child care in order to work.
Parent/caretakers who lose employment or who have a gap in employment because of a transition between jobs, can continue service for up to three months. Child care services will cease if employment does not begin again after this time.
B. there is a reasonable expectation that the training course will lead to a job within a foreseeable time frame (6 to 18 months), such as persons participating in apprenticeship programs, on-the-job training programs, or vocational skill programs.
1. DSS Requires Parents/Caretakers Meet Certain Eligibility Criterion
1. DSS Requires Parents/Caretakers Seeking A Degree Meet Certain Criterion.
DSS will provide child care services for children who need to receive or who receive protective services from the Division of Family Services exclusive of other child care needs. DSS will also give service priority to protective children, meaning DSS will provide an exemption to protective children during a waiting list period. However, by agreement with the Division of Family Services, this exemption will only exist for a limited number of protective children. Currently the limitation is 280 children, but is subject to change based on available funding and forecasted need.
DSS will waive the 200 percent income eligibility limitation for families when the child is receiving or needs to receive protective services. The need for care in this instance is coordinated with the Division of Family Services and is part of a range of services being provided to and/or required of the parent to help ensure the protection of the child.
A child that is 13 through 18 years of age may be eligible for Special Needs Child Care if the child’s parent/caretaker has a need and is financially eligible. The child’s physical, medical or emotional condition must be such that the child is unable to care for himself or herself.
DSS staff will authorize childcare for 5 days part time with extended care. Please refer to policy section 11004.9 Authorizing Service. Authorize care for additional time if the parent’s/caretaker’s activities with TWP require more than part time care.
For parents/caretakers to receive child care services, DSS must determine if child care is necessary. For two-parent households, both parents must have a need for child care. Child care is necessary when:
Child care services are available to families who otherwise cannot pay for all or part of the cost of care. This determination of who cannot afford to pay all, or a portion of the cost of care, is always a determination based on income. The financial requirements, which follow, relate to the circumstances which qualify parent/caretakers for child care services based on income. These requirements help determine whose income to count or not count, what is counted, and when and how to count it.
A. Countable income. All sources of income, earned (such as wages) and unearned (such as child support, Social Security income, etc.) are countable income when determining a family's monthly gross income. Monthly gross income includes the following:
1. Money earned from work performed as an employee, including wages, salary, Armed Forces pay, commissions, tips, piece rate payments and cash bonuses. Count the amount earned before deductions are made for taxes, bonds, pensions, union dues, etc. This is gross income. Wages need to be equal to the federal minimum wage or an equivalent.
Earnings from self-employment are counted after applying a standard deduction for self-employment expenses. To get the self-employment deduction, self-employed households must verify at least one business cost to produce income.
The cost for producing income is a standard deduction of the gross income. This standard deduction is a percentage of the gross income determined annually and listed in the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) notice each October. The standard deduction is considered the cost to produce income.
2. Social Security pensions, Supplemental Security Income, Veteran's benefits, public assistance payments, net rental income, unemployment compensation, workers compensation, pensions, annuities, alimony, adoption assistance, disability benefits, military allotments, Rail Road Retirement, and child support.
3. money received from the sale of property such as stocks, bonds, a house or a car (unless the person was engaged in the business of selling such property, in which case the net proceeds are counted as income from self-employment);
In all Categories, count all income attributable to the parent(s) and children included in the family size according to section 11003.9.1 as family income. Family size as used here means those persons whose needs and income are considered together as defined in section 11003.9.3. A person who acts as a child's caretaker (as defined in Section 11002.9), is not included in the definition of family. In this instance, any income attributable to the child or children is the income which is counted.
The people whose needs and income are considered together comprise the definition of family size. Family size is the basis upon which DSS looks at income to determine a family's financial eligibility and the child care parent fee. Therefore, knowing who to include in the determination of family size is an important part in deciding financial eligibility. Rules to follow when considering family size are relationship and whose income is counted.
A. Family size is defined as parents (natural, legal, adoptive, step, and unmarried partners with a child in common) and their children under 18 living in the home, will always be included together in the determination of family size.
EXAMPLE 1: Ms. Brown, a single mother, lives together with her two year old daughter. She is applying for child care as a Category 31, income eligible case. Mrs. Brown and her daughter are a family size of two.
EXAMPLE 2: Susan Jones and Mark Evans live together as unmarried partners. Susan has a one year old child from a previous relationship. She applies for Category 31 child care. Susan and her child are a family size of two. Mark is not counted. His income is not considered since he is not the father of the child and there is no child in common between Susan Jones and Mark Evans. (NOTE: If Mark Evans admits to being the natural parent of the child, his income is counted and this is a family of three.)
EXAMPLE 3: Ms. Johnson, a single parent, has three children ages 13, 10, and 5. She works and needs child care for her youngest child who attends preschool. She is applying for Category 31 child care. Even though she needs care for only one child, her family size is a family size of four when looking at financial eligibility.
EXAMPLE 4: Ms. Green cares for her three year old niece. Ms. Green works and needs child care. Since Ms. Green is not the parent of the child, she is considered a caretaker. Therefore, Ms. Green's income is not counted and she is not included in the family composition. Ms. Green's niece is considered a family size of one and any income attributable to the niece is countable income.
EXAMPLE 5: Mom and step-dad live with mom's two children, ages two and five, from a previous marriage. Mom and step-dad both work and need child care. Mom, step-dad, and her two children are a family size of four. Step-dad is included.
EXAMPLE 6: Mom and step-dad live with mom's three year old child from a previous marriage. Step-dad also has a five year old child from a previous marriage living in the home. Mom and step-dad both work and need child care. This family is a family size of four.
EXAMPLE 7: Mom and her unmarried partner have a child in common. Mom and the unmarried partner also have one child each from previous relationships. Since Mom and the unmarried partner have a child in common the needs and income of each parent will be considered for all three children. This would be a family size of 5. In this example the Child Care Sub system will first build the family together as one AG. If the AG fails the system will break this family down into 3 AG’s to determine as many persons eligible as possible. The three AG’s would be Mom, unmarried partner and child in common, Mom and child from a previous relationship, unmarried partner and his child from a previous relationship.
EXAMPLE: Mom lives with her grandmother. Mom has two children ages 10 and 6 for whom she needs after-school care. Mom and her two children are considered a family size of three. Grandmother is not included because she is not the parent of the children nor is her income counted.
Consider minor parents (under 18) for child care services separately from their legal guardian or parents. This means that minor parents can apply for child care services on their own even if they live with their legal guardian or parents. In this case, need for care and financial eligibility is based on the minor parents' circumstances and not that of their parents or legal guardian.
EXAMPLE: A 17 year old, who lives with mom, has a child of her own and she needs child care to continue high school. Completing high school is her need. If she seeks child care as a Category 31 case, financial eligibility is based on her income. She and her child are a family of two.
Even though minor parents who are living with a legal guardian or their parents can apply on their own, still seek the signature of the legal guardian or parents on the minor parent's application for child care. However, if the legal guardian or parents refuse to sign the application, deny service.
In the case of a minor parent who is a mandatory TANF participant, the minor parent will have to comply with TANF requirements for DSS to maintain child care services. Requirements for TANF are satisfactory participation in the assigned activity and making good progress toward the completion of the activity.
Satisfactory participation is defined in each participant's Employability Plan. Making good progress is defined as meeting certain qualitative and quantitative measures of performance, such as reviewing test results to determine if students are able to do passing work.
If minor parents receive a sanction because they fail to comply with their Food Stamp Employment & Training - TANF requirements, they cannot get child care as long as their TANF case is open and they need to cure their sanction.
Parents/caretakers are required to report changes that affect either their need for child care or their income. Parents/caretakers are to report these changes to their Case Manager within 10 days. The types of changes that parents/caretakers are to report are:
Any parent/caretaker who expresses a desire for child care services may apply by contacting a DSS office. The process to actually obtain child care services starts when parents/caretakers contact a Case Manager. Consider this an informal inquiry unless or until it results in the completion of a written application.
An informal inquiry typically involves a parent/ caretaker's phone call or unannounced child care office visit to seek information about eligibility for child care services. Process all informal inquiries by doing a simple review of the parent/caretaker's need in the creation of a child care case in the DCIS II Child Care Sub system. Following this simple screening, parents/caretakers are told they either appear eligible or ineligible for service. For those applicants who appear to be eligible, proceed with the formal application process, schedule an appointment or send them the application and outline the necessary information to be returned with the signed application. Case Managers will inform those parents/caretakers who do not appear eligible of their right to file a formal application if they still so choose.
During the informal process, no obligation exists to provide parents/caretakers with a written decision of the eligibility finding nor are parents/caretakers able to appeal an informal decision. In either case, however, Case Managers will always conduct or schedule a formal interview for parents/caretakers who appear eligible or those who assert their right to make a formal request.
The formal application process is detailed below, including the requirements for authorizing child care services, the minimum requirements for verifying eligibility information, the standards for determining child care fees, and conditions for when and why a child care case should either continue or close.
4. any other information which will help in determining the need for service, such as documentation of a special need. Documentation of the special need may be provided on the Special Needs Form or any other written correspondence submitted by a physician or medical professional with the authority to do so. For a protective need, a referral from Division of Family Services must be submitted.
Parents must be given any information that will help them to make an informed decision regarding their child care services. Provide parents/caretakers with a list of providers and a child care certificate packet as needed. Although verifications are needed, Presumptive Child Care may be opened pending information. Presumptive Care can be authorized for approximately one month, depending on the date of application. (For more information on Presumptive Child Care see DSSM 11004.8).
B. A determination of financial eligibility as needed;
D. An explanation of the available types of child care; the choices parents/caretakers have regarding these provider types; the various provider requirements regarding licensure, possible co-pays, health, and safety, including record of immunization; and required child abuse and criminal history checks;
E. An explanation of DSS payment rates and parent fee scale, including a discussion of how fees are assessed, where fees are to be paid, what happens if the fee is not paid, and how parents/caretakers are to keep DSS informed of changes that affect fees;
As part of the formal application process, use the parents/caretakers interview to review and verify eligibility requirements. This interview will always include an evaluation of the parents/caretakers need for child care and, as appropriate, a determination of financial eligibility. Section 11003, Eligibility Requirements, provides guidance for this review.
When a parent/caretaker makes a contact to inquire about child care, ask the following questions of the parent/ caretaker to determine and verify need (these questions follow the eligibility requirements noted in Section 11003 and match DCIS II Child Care Sub system need codes.
A. Is the parent/caretaker employed or in need of child care to accept employment? (Category 12 for TANF employed or Category 31 if not on TANF) The caretaker must be part of the TANF grant to be a Category 12.
Use the appropriate documents identified in Section 11004.2 to verify the need for service. However, verification will not delay authorization of service in the event documentation is not immediately available. Authorize service while allowing parents/caretakers ten days to provide the appropriate verification. If the client is applying for services the system will automatically determine eligibility for Presumptive Child Care. The system will generate the appropriate notices, request the information and end date the authorization. If the client does not meet presumptive requirements and fails to provide requested information the system will close the case and give appropriate notice. (For more detail on Presumptive Child Care see section 11004.8)
4. Teen parents who are enrolled in or attending middle school or high school; or a program to acquire a General Education Diploma (GED) or similar secondary credential approved by the Delaware Department of Education;
As part of the application process, inform all parents/caretakers of their right to choose a child care provider. Parents/caretakers may elect to use a provider under contract with DSS or elect to receive a child care certificate. The child care certificate allows parents/caretakers to select any licensed non-contract provider or license-exempt provider. The child care certificate is part of a package of information provided to parents/caretakers as part of the formal application process. It is necessary to not only provide parents/caretakers with a copy of this package, but explain the purpose of this package and ensure that parents/caretakers reasonably understand its contents.
A. Parents/caretakers can use this package to select a child care provider of their choice. However, they must select care that is legal. Legal care is care that is licensed or that is exempt from licensing requirements.
3. providers and those 18 and older who live in the home where care is being provided must not have any record of child abuse or neglect (do not allow persons to provide care where there is a known record of abuse or neglect), and
D. Once parents/caretakers know the appropriate provider to select, they also need to know how DSS will pay for the care provided. DSS has established rates above which it will not pay (see Appendix II for current reimbursement rates).
Parents/caretakers will need to know these rates and whether or not the provider is willing to accept them. If the provider is willing, the certificate will act just like a DSS contract and DSS will pay the provider directly less any child care fee. If the provider is not willing, the parent/caretaker will self-arrange care with the individual provider.
If the provider contracted purchase of care slots are full, the provider may offer the parent/caretaker the option of receiving service as a purchase of care plus client. The provider then receives the regular DSS subsidy from the Division, the DSS determined parent fee and any additional fee determined by the provider from the parent/caretaker.
If the provider is not willing to accept purchase of care plus, the parent/caretaker will self-arrange care with the individual provider. The parent/caretaker will pay the provider and submit an original receipt to DSS for reimbursement. The parent/caretaker, however, will only receive reimbursement up to the DSS statewide limit.
E. The provider will need to complete and return the original copy of the actual child care certificate before Case Managers can authorize care. Relative and non-relative providers will also complete and return the Child Abuse/ Neglect History Clearance Form or forms for all members 18 and older living in the home. If this form is not returned, discontinue care. Other exempt providers will need to keep a completed child/abuse and criminal history declaration statement on file for each child care staff member.
F. Service will not be delayed because of an incomplete child abuse clearance check, but remind parents/caretakers that DSS will not pay for care if, after authorization, the check should reveal a history of abuse or neglect.
G. Allow parents/caretakers one month to use a certificate. If the certificate is not used within that time, it no longer remains valid and the parents/caretakers will need to obtain a new certificate if they still wish to receive service.
POC+ is a care option that allows providers to charge DSS clients the difference between the DSS reimbursement rate up to the provider’s private fee for service. The provider receives the DSS rate, the DSS determined child care parent fee if applicable, and any additional provider determined co-pay.
This option is primarily for DSS fee-paying clients. DSS chooses not to limit childcare options for any group of individuals. DSS will allow all DSS purchase of care clients eligible for POC with no parent fee the opportunity to waive their right to receive childcare with no additional provider co-pays and choose a POC+ slot.
POC+ is an option for all DSS clients, not a requirement. If a provider does not have a regular POC slot available, the client can choose to self arrange, enter into a POC+ arrangement or find another provider that will take the regular DSS payment.
It is the provider’s responsibility to include in their contract with the DSS client the explanation of POC+, the length of POC+ if it is specified, the co-payment amount, the providers policy on non-payment of fees, and a statement that they have explained to the client their options and that the client chooses to participate in POC+.
If a client is currently participating in POC+ and goes to a zero parent fee for DSS, the client can stay POC+ or request a regular POC slot. If a regular POC slot is not available the client can chose to remain in a POC+ slot, self arrange, or find a provider with a regular POC slot.
NOTE: It is important to explain to DSS clients who receive POC and Food Stamps that if they choose to participate in POC+ they need to inform the DSS worker of the co-payment amount so that the Food Stamp case can be updated.
DSS programmed the DCIS II Child Care Sub system to make eligibility decisions. As Case Managers enter the appropriate parent/caretaker information, the DCIS II Child Care Sub system will notify Case Managers whether they can proceed to authorize service. As a case is determined either eligible or ineligible, the DCIS II Child Care Sub system will send the appropriate notice to inform the parent/caretaker of the DSS child care eligibility decision. Parents/caretakers, whether eligible or not, will always receive a written decision regarding their official request for child care services.
Complete an Application for Child Care Assistance for all parents/caretakers before authorizing child care services. The information from this form becomes the basis upon which child care services are authorized. Therefore, the information should be as complete and accurate as possible. It is important for the parent/caretaker requesting service to sign this application. Their signature represents their official request for service. If a face-to-face interview is not conducted to obtain the information to complete the application, obtain the parent/caretaker signature on the application at the earliest opportunity after service is authorized. Do not allow parents/caretakers to receive services beyond one month without having a signed application on file.
When it is necessary to authorize new child care services to parents/caretakers because of a category change (such as parents/ caretakers going from a Category 11 to 31), it is not necessary to have parents/caretakers complete a new application. This enables DSS to maintain the concept of seamless service.
Under regulations, eligible families are required to contribute to the cost of child care services based upon their ability to pay. Families contribute to the cost of care by paying a DSS child care parent fee. DSS, however, provides child care services to certain families at no cost. Part of the process after determining the client’s financial eligibility and need for child care would be determining the parent fee and which families should have their parent fee waived.
3. Caretakers in Category 31 caring for a child/ children who receive TANF or GA assistance where the adult requesting the child care is not the child's natural or adoptive parent (for example, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.).
4. When paying the fee creates an excessive financial burden. Excessive financial burden is defined as a situation where the family's disposable income prior to the deductions or after the deductions, result in the family having income below 40% of the federal poverty level. Deductions are limited to:
un-reimbursed medical costs (Before considering these medical costs as deductions, families not already receiving Medicaid or on the Delaware Healthy Children Program (DHCP) must first apply for either Medicaid or the DHCP. The DHCP premiums are included in the un-reimbursed medical cost deductions. Any un-reimbursed medical costs not covered by Medicaid or the DHCP will be considered as a deduction to determine the family's income for excessive financial burden.)
A family of three has gross monthly income of $1,300.00. The parent fee for this family would be 16% of the cost of care. The rent payment for this family is $600/ month. Utility expenses are $20 for phone and $165 for electric.
A family of four has a gross monthly income of $2,203.00. The parent fee for this family would be 44% of the cost of care. The rent payment for this family is $600/month. Utility expenses are $20 for phone and $165 for electric.
The assessed child care parent fee is based on family size, family income as a percentage of the poverty scale and the cost of care. The current child care fee scale used to determine the child care parent fee is located in Administrative Notices as the Child Care Sliding Fee Scale Appendix III of the Cost of Living Adjustment Notice.
C. At the top of the income ranges are percentages from 0% to 36% all the way up to 190% to 200%. These are the percentages of the federal poverty scale as it relates to family income by family size. It means that a family’s income can range between 0% to36% all the way up to 190% to 200% of the federal poverty scale. Find the appropriate percentage column for your family.
D. Finally, based on family size and income at that appropriate percentage range, look at the percentages below (these are ranges from 1% to 80%). This is the percentage of the cost of care that this family will pay per child based on the percentage of their income as it relates to the federal poverty level.
E. Finally, based upon the type of care (i.e., home, center, etc.) a parent/caretaker selects, multiply the percentage of the cost of care by the cost for that type of care. This is the parent fee the parent/caretaker will pay.
EXAMPLE: Based upon income and family size, a parent is to pay seven percent of the cost of care for a three year old child in a contracted child care center. If the cost of care for a child over two in a center is $12.40 per day, multiply $12.40 by .07, giving the parent a fee of .87 cents per day for that child.
NOTE: Use the same rules for determining family size for the child care fee scale as done for determining family size for income. Include all of the family's children under age18 in the family size even if not all will need child care services. In other words, the people whose needs and income are included together are counted together to comprise the definition of family size. Review Section 11003.9.3 for further guidance.
The child care parent fee which shows in the DCIS II Child Care Sub system is the actual amount of care that is authorized. The actual fee the parent/caretaker pays for that child is indicated on the authorization form.
Parent/caretakers will pay their child care fee directly to the child care provider. This fee, in combination with what DSS pays the provider, represents the reimbursement limit DSS allows for child care services. These limits are based on the child care type and the age of the child. DSS has contracts with providers for these rates which include purchase of care plus option. If, however, providers do not accept these rates or the purchase of care plus option, parent/caretakers will self-arrange care directly with the provider. In this instance, the parent/caretaker will not only pay their fee, but also the provider's full charge for care. The parent/caretaker will submit an original receipt for reimbursement, at which time DSS will reimburse the parent/caretaker in an amount up to the statewide limits (see 11004.4.1 above), less the child care fee.
Parent/caretakers who fail to pay their child care fee or who fail to make arrangements to pay past fees owed will have their child care services terminated. Providers are responsible for informing DSS of the parent/caretaker's failure to pay the fee. Obtain such information in writing from providers whenever possible. However, it is acceptable to obtain this information verbally if the following procedures are used.
C. Send the Failure to Pay Child Care Fee Closing (CCMIS Notice 4060) to the parent/caretakers informing them that service will terminate due to non-payment of the fee unless arrangements are made with providers to pay past fees owed.
Presumptive Child Care is a limited one to two month eligibility period and authorization for child care. This will be automatically generated when a mandatory verification field is in the “pending verification” status and the parent/ caretaker did not receive Child Care in the previous month.
When the case is entered into the DCIS II Child Care Sub system and the status is pending due to verification needed, the system automatically calculates the 10 day period allowed for the return of necessary information. If the case is entered and the 10 day calculation falls prior to adverse action, the system will generate an authorization for the current month only. If the case is entered and the 10 day calculation falls after adverse action the system will generate an authorization for the current month and the next month only. Eligibility will be denied after the presumptive period if the client does not return the necessary information. It will be necessary to change the appropriate fields and check verified if the client returns the necessary information. The system will generate the appropriate notices.
All child care services must be authorized before parents/caretakers can receive subsidized child care. Parents/ caretakers can choose any provider who is either licensed, licensed exempt or self arranged. No parent/caretaker can receive POC funds to provide child care services to their own children in a home or any other child care facility where the parent/caretaker provides direct care to that child. These parents may be able to get child care assistance if their children are placed in another child care setting.
Authorizations always start after service has been approved. The exact date is selected by the parent/caretaker. An authorization ends on the last day of the month of the authorization period. At no time can the authorization period exceed the review date. Child care may be authorized only for the days and hours that parents/caretakers need care. The types of care that can be authorized are part time (P), full day (X), day and a half (T) and double time (D) which is two days. All licensed and licensed exempt child care providers can receive up to five (5) absent days, depending on the number of days the child is authorized to attend. Children in self arranged care and children authorized for seven (7) days do not receive absent days.
Complete a change to an existing authorization whenever a situation occurs within the authorization period which requires a change to the parent/caretaker's situation. The DCIS II Child Care Sub system defines this as a Change Authorization. Examples of when Change Authorizations occur are:
When changes to an authorization cause a decrease in parent/caretaker service (e.g., less care, increase in fee), DSS considers this a negative change. According to the DCIS II Child Care Sub system, negative changes will occur the first day of the next month. Provide the parent/caretaker with adequate and timely notice whenever such a negative change occurs. DSS programmed the DCIS II Child Care Sub system to allow for timely notice. Therefore, any negative change will not cause a change to the authorization unless sufficient time remains in the current month for Case Managers to send the parent/caretaker notice of this change. If there is not sufficient time, the change will not occur until the first day of the month following the next month.
The adjusted income will increase the child care fee on the authorization, which is a negative change (i.e., parent Y will have to pay a higher fee). Since this change occurs after January 20 (change does not occur until the next work day), the DCIS II Child Care Sub system will not make parent Y's new fee effective until March 1. The DCIS II Child Care Sub system sends parent Y a letter notifying parent Y of the higher fee.
DSS considers changes which increase the level of parent/caretaker service (e.g., increase in the number of days, reduction in fee) a positive change. The DCIS II Child Care Sub system is programmed to allow positive client changes to occur the first day of the current month.
A neutral change, like a change in category, will generally take place the first day of the next month. However, some category changes, going from a Category 11 or 12 (no fee) to a Category 31 will cause a negative change. The parent/caretaker will now have to pay a fee.
EXAMPLE: Parent Y who was a TANF participant and a Category 11 obtains a job. The job causes parent Y's TANF case to close. Parent Y can no longer get Category 11 child care, but qualifies for Category 31. Enter new income in the DCIS II income screens. Parent Y's TANF case is due to close on January 31, but the change is not completed until after January 21. The DCIS II Child Care Sub system will automatically change the category code from 11 to 31, and give notice once the client is no longer eligible for TANF but continues to be eligible under category 31.
If a change needs to be made to an old transaction (authorizations for which DSS already made payment), go to the Correct Transaction screen. The Correct Transaction function is located in DCIS II Child Care Sub system. Correct transactions can only be completed for positive changes, meaning the change caused an increase in service or a change in the child care fee, thereby increasing the provider payment. The only areas that can be changed on a transaction are:
Case Managers can only make corrections in the above areas to transactions created within the last 3 months. Supervisors may make changes in the above areas to any past transaction. Changes to transactions that are not editable (not listed above) will have to be referred to the Child Care Monitors.
Families receiving child care during the school year sometimes need to change their service requirements during the summer months. For instance, some parents make alternate arrangements during the summer for a school-age child who receives care throughout the school year. These arrangements may not require the need for child care services. However, the parent may still need child care when the school year starts again in September. In addition, some parents only work during the school year and may not need child care during the summer months, such as parents who drive a school bus.
DSS will continue service to those families who do not need service for the summer but who will need service again in September. This break is considered an interruption of service and not as an end to the family's service need. Therefore, even though these families need to re-apply for service before September, they will not be re-applying as totally new cases and will not have to go on the waiting list.
Certain families who have an authorization end date for June may not keep their redetermination appointments (due to making alternate arrangements for child care during the summer or not needing care at all). These families are notified to contact their Case Manager if they need care again in September. If they fail without good cause to keep their re-application appointments or to contact their Case Manager, their service will not continue as before. They will go on the waiting list.
DSS designed the CCMIS so that there would not be two "active" authorizations for one child at the same time. However, there is one exception: when a parent/caretaker wishes to change providers. In this instance, enter the change of provider and the CCMIS will (1) change the old authorization to close it effective the end of the current month, and (2) create a new authorization effective the date of the change in provider. Both authorizations will remain in effect until the first expires. This will allow DSS to pay both providers.
However, because DSS requires that providers be given at least five days notice of this change, there may be instances when the original authorization will remain in effect until the last day of the next month. Since the Change Authorization will be mailed to the provider, do not send a separate notice. Ensure that parent/caretakers pay any fees they may owe the old child care provider.
Under certain conditions, DSS may not be able to provide service to eligible parent/caretakers. Either because of a lack of funding or because DSS cannot match child's child care need with an available provider, do not authorize service. When an authorization for one of the above reasons cannot be completed, place the child or children on an Unmet Need Waiting List. Follow the Unmet Needs Section of the User Manual both for placement and removal of a child(ren) on the Unmet Need Waiting List.
Parent/caretakers will no longer receive a copy of the authorization. Instead, as authorizations are created, the CCMIS will automatically batch and process the authorizations each night at the DCIS data center. The DCIS data center will mail the authorization to providers the next work day. Instead of the authorization, provide parent/caretakers with a copy of the Child Care Payment Agreement Form (Form 626). Parent/caretakers will present this copy of the Child Care Payment Agreement form to providers as their initial verification of service authorization. (Providers have been instructed to accept this as a sign of authorization until the official authorization arrives in the mail.)
The purpose of the Child Care Payment Agreement Form is to ensure that parent/caretakers acknowledge their responsibilities as recipients of DSS child care services. Complete the blank spaces of this form with information appropriate to each parent/caretaker. Complete the form, give two copies to the parent/caretaker (one for their records and one for presentation to the provider), and keep one copy with the Case Manager's file.
All childcare applicants and recipients are continuously eligible for child care services for twelve months. This means that the applicants and recipients remain eligible for child care services unless:
Additionally, the child care parent fee will not change during the authorization unless the parent/caretaker in a single parent home loses his or her job or one or both parents in a two parent home loses his or her job. (See DSSM 11004.12.1 Continuing Child Care after Loss of Need.)
Close the child care case if parents/caretakers fail to complete a review or return the six month interim report (See DSSM 9068.1 12-Month Certification Periods). Only child care/food benefit cases will require an interim report. If the parents/caretakers provide good cause for their failure to complete or return the report, the case should be processed.
5. Inclement weather.
Parents/caretakers whose child care cases close because they failed to complete a redetermination or provide verification, can reapply for service. However, if DSS is in a "wait list" situation, these parents/caretakers will be subject to DSS' priority service order (see Section 11004.3.1 Prioritizing Service Needs).
When closing cases, send the appropriate closing notice which provides a ten day notice. DSS programmed the DCIS II Child Care Sub system to allow for ten day notice before an authorization closes, and informs the participant of his/her right to a Fair Hearing.
Under certain circumstances, DSS will continue child care for up to three months after parents/caretakers lose their need for service. DSS will continue to authorize service for up to three months for parents/caretakers who:
Complete the application process by reviewing with parent/caretakers their rights and responsibilities. These rights and responsibilities reflect DSS' belief that parent/caretakers should be well informed about the child care decisions they make. Therefore, ensure that parent/caretakers receive the following information as part of the application process.
1. Licensed providers must allow parental access as part of their licensing standards. Complaints against licensed providers who fail to provide parental access should be addressed to the Office of Child Care Licensing, Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families.
C. Parent/caretakers have the right to request a list of substantiated parental complaints on any licensed or license-exempt provider. Maintain a record of complaints, particularly substantiated complaints, and provide this information to parent/caretakers upon request. The DSS Contracts Administrator's Office is the central repository for complaints about providers.
A. Parents/caretakers have the responsibility to give accurate information to Case Managers concerning their financial status and their need for service. Failure to provide requested and accurate information could lead to a denial and/or termination of service.
C. Parents/caretakers have the responsibility to pay their assessed child care fee. Parents/caretakers pay the fee directly to the provider at a schedule determined by the provider. Providers have the right to deny service to parents/caretakers who fail to pay their fees.
D. Parents/caretakers have the responsibility to abide by the provider's rules and procedures regarding the operation of their child care facility. Failure to do so could lead to termination from the provider's program. (Such a termination will not cause termination from DSS' subsidized child care services, but can make it difficult for DSS to locate another placement.)
E. Parents/caretakers have the responsibility to reimburse DSS for any payments made on their behalf for which they were not eligible. DSS has the right to recoup such overpayments. In cases where fraud is suspected, recovery must be attempted.
Child care case records are maintained in accordance with DSSM policies as noted in Section 1000 under the heading Administration. However, ensure that child care case records contain, at a minimum, the following information:
Authorizations, client notices, and other pertinent case information is contained in the DCIS II Child Care Sub system. The DCIS II Child Care Sub system is considered an electronic case file and, therefore, equally or more valuable as the manual record. Maintain both the manual file as well as the electronic file in an up-to-date manner.
A child care overpayment occurs when DSS pays for more child care service than parents/caretakers are eligible to receive. Overpayments may be the result of an agency, provider or parent/caretaker action.
DHSS will attempt recovery in all cases of suspected fraud, in all cases involving current recipients, and in all cases where the overpayment amount would equal or exceed the costs of recovery. Each adult in the child care household is liable for repayment of the overpayment. In instances where a legal guardian or parent is required to sign the child care application, the legal guardian(s) or the parent(s) in the home is responsible for the overpayment even though the parent(s) or guardian(s) is not technically part of the child care household.
DSS can only recoup child care overpayments from child care benefits. Any attempt to recover child care overpayments from TANF benefits can only occur if there is a voluntary request from the recipient family. Audit and Recovery Management Services (ARMS) is the agency responsible for establishing repayment agreements and the collection of overpayments.
The purpose of the subsidized child day care program is to provide care for children for a portion of the day in the absence of the parent/caretaker. It is a support service to enable the parent/caretaker to hold a job and/or obtain training or education leading to employment. The program is also used to meet the special developmental needs of the child that would otherwise go unmet or to remove the child from a family situation where he/she may be in danger.
All licensed family day care homes, group day care homes, and day care centers are eligible for a contract to provide subsidized child day care service. The contract must be fully signed before the provider can begin to provide subsidized care.
The contracted fee for service is established by DHSS, published in the annual Social Services Block Grant Plan. The department reserves the right to withhold payment if the provider does not perform in accordance with the terms of the contract.
Providers will receive authorization notice for each child at first enrollment and for each change or redetermination. The providers will receive a computer-generated copy of the parent/caretaker authorization letter for each child in their care. In the case of a computer problem or last-minute authorization, the provider may instead receive a handwritten authorization form (Subsidized Child Care Client Agreement- Form 626) from the DSS worker to validate the provider services. Providers will also receive a computer-generated authorization letter from DSS when data entry for the handwritten form has been completed.
The child care provider must verify information on the authorization form. DSS will only pay for those services stated on the form. If a provider feels the service information is not accurate, the parent/caretaker must contact DSS to have the information adjusted.
Payment cannot be made after the expiration date unless a new DSS authorization has been issued. Providers cannot assume that parents/caretakers with expired authorizations will continue to be eligible for services.
Reimbursement is monthly as indicated on the Day Care Contract (Compensation, Method of Payment, and Collection of Fee sections). Complete records must be retained by the provider for a period of three years, listing each child's daily attendance, accurately stating the number of authorized days present by type, and the number of absent days. These records will be monitored on a regular basis.
Payment will be made only for the number of days and type of authorization indicated on the child’s authorization notice and in accordance with absent day policy. Reimbursement rates differ for each type of child care setting.
DSS pays for up to five absent days per month. The number of paid absent days per month is the same as the number of days authorized for care in one week (up to a maximum of five days per month). The specific number of paid absent days is indicated on each child's Authorization Form.
The client fee is based on the DSS scale according to the client's income. The provider is responsible for collecting fees from their private and DSS fee-paying clients. The provider must develop a fee collection policy that states the fees collected prior to or after delivery of service and the frequency of collection, such as weekly, biweekly, or monthly. The provider's fee collection policy should be discussed with the parent/caretaker upon initial enrollment at the facility and should be reviewed periodically.
A client may be denied service or terminated from service if notice is received from the provider that the client has failed to pay the assessed fee for service. Provider notice must be written and a copy forwarded to the Food Stamp Employment & Training Case Manager. Service may be authorized if:
The provider will be paid at the current rate of payment for those normal hours of operation during which the provider is closed because of conditions which result in an officially-declared "state of emergency" by the Governor, if the emergency restricts or prohibits travel in the vicinity of the provider.
The provider may be paid for approved absent days for emergency closing caused by fire, flood, health, or safety hazard determined by the Office of Child Care Licensing. Consideration will be given to each individual case based on relocation, rehabilitation, or permanent closing of the provider.
If the site the child(ren) attends is closed and care is offered at an alternate site within the same organization, payment will be made only for those children who attended the alternate site. The provider should attach a memorandum listing the children and the alternate site they attended.
Providers should contact the Child Care Monitor if a payment error is suspected on the site payment statement, of if additional information is needed regarding the transaction listed on the statement.
EXAMPLE: The October attendance report is submitted in November for payment. Upon reconciling provider records with the DSS site payment statement, the provider determines that an error was made. The provider must notify the monitor no later than January 30 that an error was made.
E. Does not keep accurate records per the DSS Child Care Contact; has had repeated offenses, has been counseled and has failed to meet the requirements of a corrective action plan agreed upon with the Child Care Monitor.
F. Does not keep an open bank account to receive direct deposit payments from the Child Care Subsidy Program. Direct deposit is mandatory for all DSS child care subsidy providers effective May 1, 2008.
B. Has an unsuitable criminal history or a member of the provider's household has an unsuitable criminal history. DSS uses Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) guidelines and Title 11, Chapter 85 of the Delaware Code to determine unsuitable criminal history.
Clients may make a complaint when they believe a facility is not meeting the licensing regulations or the provisions of the DSS contract. When a client makes a complaint to a Case Manager, the Case Manager will complete a Client Provider Complaint Form (Form 633). The Case Manager will forward the complaint to the Office of Child Care Licensing with a copy to the Child Care Monitor. Licensing will send results of the investigation to the Child Care Administrator.