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Arkansas free child care assistance programs.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services administers the free federal government funded child care assistance program, which offers free or low cost day care for low income families. The department works closely with many other groups in the state, including the state’s Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. Arkansas also works closely with, and receives grants from, the United States Department of Health and Human Services. All of these agencies partnering together do their best to meet the increasing demand for financial assistance to pay for the very expensive day and child care costs.

Applicants must meet some or all of the following criteria, which can also change. You also need to stay on top of the terms and conditions of the program. For example, once you enroll, if you are move or have a change in income, you need to notify the state. Or your aid may be canceled.

  • First and foremost they need to fall within income limits.
  • The child who is being applied for must be under the age of 13.
  • Also, each adult resident of Arkansas that is residing in the household must be enrolled and attending high school, employed at least 30 hour per week, in GED classes, college, vocational school or a training program. They need to also be considered a full time student.
  • The state will allow a combination of school and work. This can be found to be acceptable if the individual is involved at a minimum of 30 hours between the activities.

Any type of free financial assistance or day care vouchers that are paid out is determined and based on the availability of government funds and state subsidies. If there is not a waiting list and if there are government funds available at the time your application is received and approved, you will be contacted by a so called Program Eligibility Specialist from the state of Arkansas. They will notify you of the status of your application.

When your application is reviewed, all income from all family members and sources must be included in the monthly total. This includes maybe non-traditional sources such as earned income from SSA, SSI, a pension, VA, etc. Be sure to include all sources or the application can be rejected.

There is often a waiting list put into place as part of the program. As additional capacity or services become available in your county or town in Arkansas, the child care program specialist will contact those applicants based on their need and priority. Your assistance will start on an effective date, which is determined based on when the Program Eligibility Specialist makes a determination that all requirements have been met by the parents. Families are usually required to pay a percentage of the total cost for child care.





The waiting list in Arkansas is only for a short term basis. Basically your application will only be effective for at most 12 months. If you still require child care assistance or a subsidy at the end of those 12 months, then you need to reapply for a voucher.

When you are able to enroll and are in line for assistance or a free day care program, the family must select a child care provider that is registered or licensed by the Arkansas Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. The provider must be approved, meet quality guidelines, and also be an active participant in the government program. If you need help in locating a provider near you, or want to be sure they are licensed, dial 1-800-322-8176. Free advice and information is available to callers.

How to apply for free day care in Arkansas

In order to apply for assistance or a free voucher to pay for a portion of your day care, request an application by calling the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (1-800-322-8176) or you can call a Program Eligibility Specialist in your county.

By Jon McNamara

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