Nearly 25,000 Hamilton County children received child care assistance from our agency last year. These are children whose parents have annual incomes below or near the federal poverty level. That is about $24,000 for a family of four.
For these parents, going to work or school (to prepare for future employment) could be a worrisome event because they can’t afford safe, reliable child care. But with our help, they are able to report to work or school worry free.
Last year, ODJFS spent nearly $94 million funding safe care to 25,000 Hamilton County children. Child Care providers receive $150 per week, per child, on average. That safe care allows more than 25,000 parents to work or prepare for work and helps more than 1,200 different Hamilton County child care providers keep their small businesses open.
We do have some changes coming to the program this year. Income guidelines will change and we have a major rule change. But before I tell you about those, here is a recap of our program:
- We work with three different types of child care providers: child care centers, Type A homes and Type B homes. Centers are off-site locations that serve more than 12 children. Type A homes are in-home operations that serve up to 12 children. Type B homes, by far the most common in Hamilton County, are in-home operations that serve up to six children, with no more than three under age two.
- All homes and centers are licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Our agency completes ongoing inspections for the Type B homes, and makes recommendations on their licensure. The state inspects Type A homes and centers.
- We process the paperwork and determine eligibility for child care assistance. Eligibility is based on gross income and family size. Children must be under the age of 13, or if they have special needs, under the age of 18. Children must also meet citizenship requirements.
- Child care assistance, like food assistance, is now an electronic transaction. Parents swipe a card at the center or home to record their child’s attendance.
I want to share two significant changes to the program. Beginning Sept. 28, the income guidelines will change and each child will only be allowed one authorized provider per week, with some exceptions.
The income guidelines will now allow parents entry into the program if their income is at or below 130 percent of the poverty level. So, that family of four could actually earn almost $32,000 and still qualify for assistance.
Once in the program, they can now earn up to 300 percent of the poverty level to continue receiving assistance. That is more than $70,000 of gross annual income, although it is important to note the assistance available to a family diminishes as their income increases. For example, a family of four earning poverty level wages would have no co-pay, while a family of four earning 300 percent of the federal poverty level would have a co-pay of $377.
The other change this year drops the number of authorized providers for each child from two to one. But, there are several exceptions. The child can have a second authorized provider if:
- The child needs additional care during non-traditional hours.
- The child needs to change providers in the middle of the week and the hours of care for the providers do not overlap.
- The child’s provider is closed on scheduled school days off or on calamity days and the child needs care for those days.
- The child is enrolled in a part-time program participating in Step Up to Quality and needs care from an additional provider.
For more information on the changes or child care in general, please visit the Child Care section of our web site, www.hcjfs.org.
Child care is one of those services we provide that receives little attention, but is crucial to our mission of moving people to self-sufficiency. More importantly, it provides parents with peace of mind when it comes to their most precious treasures.