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What You Should Know About Child Care And Public Assistance

Who is guaranteed child care?

Child care assistance is guaranteed to families with children under 13 receiving public assistance when child care is necessary for the parent to work (private employment) or to do work activities assigned by welfare(such as workfare, community service and approved vocational education and training).

Will child care end when I get off public assistance?

Not necessarily. A family is guaranteed continued child care after their case is closed when:

  • Child care for children under 13 is necessary for the parent to work, and
  • The family’s public assistance ended because of increased work or child support income or the family voluntarily ended its public assistance, and
  • The family’s income does not exceed state guidelines (for example, $28,644 for a family of three in 2001).

If you received public assistance for at least three of the six months before your case was closed you will receive a year of transitional child care assistance. If you were on public assistance for less than three months, you will receive only three months of transitional child care assistance.

After this three or twelve month period you will be called in for an appointment with the Agency for Child Development (ACD). ACD will check your income to make sure you are still eligible and then help pay for your child care until your youngest child turns 13 or your income increases significantly.

If your public assistance case was recently closed and you believe you are eligible for transitional child care, call the Work Related Benefits department at 212-835-7681.

What families are eligible for child care?

Some other families are eligible for child care assistance, although child care is not guaranteed for them. Families receiving public assistance may get child care when needed:

  • To allow a parent to do community service, or
  • To allow a teen parent to attend high school (or a training program), or
  • Because the parent is physically or mentally incapacitated, or
  • Because the parent must be away from home because of family duties.

What type of child care can be paid for?

Welfare will pay for many different types of child care, including informal, registered, and licensed child care.

Informal child care is when a friend, neighbor, or relative looks after your kids. Informal providers must have a social security number.

Registered child care is where the provider registers with the state, affirming that she meets certain safety and health criteria.

Licensed child care is the most carefully monitored by city and state agencies: providers must meet stringent health and safety standards and are inspected once a year.

Regulated child care means either registered or licensed child care.

How can a parent know if informal child care is safe?

Informal providers (including family and friends) must fill out an attestation about their own health and the safety of their homes. Review this information carefully.

How much will welfare pay for child care?

Welfare must pay the actual cost of the child care up to the “market rate.” The state sets the market rate.

How can I find child care?

In Brooklyn, call the Child Development Support Corporation at 718-398-6738. They are paid to help you find providers in your area. They can also tell you which providers are licensed, registered, or informal.

The Agency for Child Development (ACD) also operates “contracted” day care centers and family day care networks. If you would like to place your child in one of these programs you should contact the center or network and then have your caseworker make a reservation in the computer for you.

I don’t have child care. Do I still have to go to my appointments?

Yes. You must go to all your appointments for the work program, even if you are taking care of your children. You will lose public assistance if you miss your appointment. This means you must bring your children to your appointments if no one can take care of them for you.

I was called in to participate in workfare. When I got to the appointment, I was told to find child care. How should I start?

You can ask welfare to give you a current list of licensed and registered child care providers in your area. You can also ask for a referral for ACD child care. You can also call the Child Development Support Corporation at 718-398-6738 for help.

What should I do when I look for child care?

When you are looking for child care, keep a detailed list of friends, neighbors and family members you ask to be providers. Keep a list of all the child care providers you contact, writing down the name of the child care provider, the person you talked to, and whether there was a space for your child.
Follow up on all child care referrals. If a provider has space, but you do not want your child to go there, write down in detail why you don’t think the provider is right for your child.

You must report this information to your worker at your next appointment.

I have looked, but I can’t find child care. What must I do?

If you can’t find the child care you need to do workfare, or if you find a child care provider, but you do not want your child to go to that provider, you must give welfare an “attestation” (a solemn declaration) that you were unable to find child care for one of the following reasons:

  • The provider was not open for the hours and days you need child care or the provider was not able or willing to provide child care to your child.
  • You were not able, by available public or private transportation, to get your child to and from the child care provider because of your child’s age and/or special needs.
  • It would take more than 1 hour and 15 minutes to get from your home to the child care provider.
  • The physical condition of the home in which care would be provided or the physical or mental condition of the informal provider would be detrimental to the health, welfare and/or safety of your child.

Welfare must give you a chance to “attest” (make a solemn declaration in words or writing) that you could not find child care. You will need the detailed information you wrote down when you searched for child care for your attestation and if you have to defend yourself at a fair hearing.

What must welfare do to help me find child care?

If you cannot find child care on your own, your welfare worker should arrange two referrals to two providers with slots available. One of the referrals must be to either a registered or licensed provider. You must follow up on these referrals and keep notes about whether the providers are right for your child.

Can I be sanctioned or lose public assistance for not complying with workfare if I don’t have child care?

You should not lose public assistance if you cannot find appropriate child care. You can lose public assistance if you stop looking for child care or if you cannot report to welfare in detail about the places you have looked.

I have to miss my work assignment because my child care fell through. What should I do?

You should call your WEP supervisor to report your absence immediately. Then get a letter from the provider to document why you missed your assignment. Request a fair hearing to protect your rights if you were sanctioned and you could not find child care or your child care fell through. You must request a fair hearing within 10 days of the date on a reduction notice to get aid continuing.

I am working at a private job, but I still receive public assistance. How do I get child care assistance?

You are guaranteed child care assistance for your kids under 13 if you need child care to work. Notify your income support worker as soon as you get your job or within ten days of receiving your first paycheck. At the same time, tell your worker you need child care assistance and submit a new completed Child Care Provider Form to her.

This article was posted April 01, 2007