California free child care assistance.
California will provide qualified residents with assistance in paying for their child care costs or some families may qualify for free day care programs. The program is short term in nature and is intended to help pay expenses while the parent is working and transitioning off of public aid. Help may also be provided when the guardian or parent is attending school or job training. The state will, as part of CalWORKs, subsidize a portion of your day or child care costs as the family works towards self-sufficiency.
It was determined many years ago that the availability of free or affordable and high quality child care is a key component of the overall CalWORKs program. This is the case because if a family can’t work or attend training because they have a child or infant at home, that means the individual will never be able to gain stability and break the cycle of poverty.
Affordable, or even free day care, can be the solution to this challenge. California wants to ensure an adequate supply of quality child care resources to low income residents and to people that are transitioning off welfare to work. All qualified residents have a right to get subsidized child care while they participate in employment or related educational activities.
So to this end, the objective of the program is to assist a family with transitioning from the immediate, short-term child care needed as the parent starts work or training. Case managers will help clients find stable, affordable, and longer term day care that is necessary for the family to remain off of public aid.
CalWORKs will allow the recipient to pay for a wide variety of services. People can choose the type of provider that they think is best for their personal situation. This can include a state licensed center that serves a large number of children, a friend, relative, neighbor, or baby-sitter, or even a small, local family child care provider. The program is administered in three separate stages.
Applying for free day care in California or subsidies
The first step is with the family's entry into the CalWORKs program. The California Department of Social Services runs Stage 1 in partnership with your local county welfare department. It begins when a participant enters the CalWORKs grant program and engages in activities pursuant to their agreed upon welfare-to-work plan. Families can also get referrals to assist them in finding high quality child care providers. This will continue for at most six months. At any point in time clients will need to leave Stage One, but it needs to be before 6 months is up. This can also occur when their personal or employment situation is stable.
Next, Stage Two begins after a recipient's work has stabilized or six months. This may also begin when the family is transitioning off of financial aid. Qualified families may continue to receive government subsidized child care from Stage Two for up to two years after they are no longer eligible for public aid. This participation is limited after the family stops receiving a CalWORKs grant.
The final step, Stage Three, begins when space in a local program is available. This will pay for some ongoing bills. Another condition is the applicant needs to have used up all the 24 months of child care from Stage 2. This aid will also continue for as long as the family remains otherwise eligible for government funded and subsidized child care programs.
Qualifications that need to be met by applicants include some or all of the following. These may also change over time. Those who are enrolled are required to engage in work, education, skill building or work preparation activities.
First, the person needs to be currently receiving CalWORKs cash aid. The parent also needs to be attending a county welfare department-approved training or education program. Or they could be working. Ongoing support is offered in California too for residents that have been receiving cash assistance and have transitioned off of it, however they still need child care subsidies to retain that employment. The child or student in question needs to also meet age limits.
The person or business that you select as a provider must also meet certain requirements in order to receive payment for their services. Families that try to enroll and get free or low cost child care will be asked to provide proof of employment, child care costs, and hours and dates of educational/job training activities or show proof of their employment. Other information may be requested by the state of California as well, including naturalization or immigration status.
To apply, you need to call your local welfare office, or call 1-800-543-7793. These are located in all counties across California. Families that need child care services can contact the office located in the county where they live. Or if you have already applied for and are receiving CalWORKs, reach out and call you eligibility worker. Another place to call for information on resources and providers is your local child care Resource and Referral Agency.
Alternate child and day care resources in California
There are other potential assistance programs in California, some of them which are also free to low income families or even immigrants. If you do not qualify for CalWORKs, Child Welfare, or ACCESS, then additional subsidized services include Head Start, City Child Care, and various California Department of Education Programs. Many non-profits and other agencies serve low-income families who are employed, seeking work, in job training, or currently attending school or college.
Another option is the Cal-Learn program. This may be able to assist teen parents who are currently receiving California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs). This resource helps parenting teens and pregnant women attend and graduate from high school or its equivalent. Payments for child care expenses are included from Cal-Learn.
Look into preschool programs or other subsidized, private day care centers that operate in the area. You may want to ensure they are licensed. However, keep in mind that many often have long waiting lists. Call your Resource and Referral agency for additional guidance.