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Child care assistance in Los Angeles and free or low cost centers.

There are several child care assistance programs available in Los Angeles. Some of the resources will offer free grants and financial assistance for paying costs. Or you can get referrals to low cost child care programs that operate in Los Angeles, or learn about services offered by non-profits and/or government agencies. The Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services as well as the LA Centralized Eligibility List are two of the main sources to turn to for help.

The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility for Kids (CalWORKs) is paid for by the Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services (DPSS). The government organization funds Stage 1 child care programs in the county. They set the regulations, rules, and eligibility requirements that need to be met by low to moderate income families.

For example, the Stage 1 financial assistance program serves eligible low income individuals and families that are currently receiving some type of public or cash aid. In addition, applicants need to also demonstrate some form of qualifying need to receive grants and other cash assistance for paying for day care or child care.

There are conditions and parameters that need to be met in order to get free daycare. To help establish your eligibility for financial assistance for paying child care in Los Angeles, you will need to request help paying for all or some of your child care fees through your Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) worker. So the aid offered by LA County probably will not cover all of your expenses, and the applicant will still be responsible for some bills.

CalWORKs Support Services Department (CWSS) will also need to review your application for assistance. Some other factors they will look at include:

  • The parent or guardian needs to have a qualifying need by participating in an approved welfare to work activity such as remedial education, job training, employment, service activities, job club or employment search activity.
  • The parent / guardian needs to be very low income, with priority given to those who are receiving cash aid or TANF for their family.
  • The child needs to be either disabled or under the age of 13.





Another option for affordable yet high quality child care is the Los Angeles County Centralized Eligibility List (LACEL). This resource serves as the information source and so called gateway for low-income individuals, parents, and families to access subsidized grants for paying expenses as well as child care and development services. The LACEL is run by the Los Angeles County Office of Child Care on behalf of the Child Care Planning Committee, and it is funded by the California Department of Education/Child Development Division (CDE/CDD).

The list can provide working poor as well as low-income families with one place to get information on programs and resources available to them throughout the region. Families can access the full range of subsidized child care and development services that are funded by the CDE/CDD. Many factors, such as family size as well as their total household income go into effect when determining programs that may be available.

Among other activities completed, the Los Angeles County Centralized Eligibility List streamlines identification of qualified low income and eligible children by some Head Start programs as well as the CDE/CDD-contracted child care provider.

Los Angeles Child Care Resource Center is another place for working families to contact. Many people are struggling to make ends meet, especially in this weak economy. Excessive child care costs are preventing many people from receiving the job training they need or it may prevent them from being able to attend work, as they need to stay home with their child. The Child Care Resource Center (CCRC) offers several financial assistance and grant programs. Many of these are often called a subsidy or voucher. Aid is offered to qualifying families on a non-discriminatory basis.

Specifically, the various child care assistance programs offered by the Resource Center include California Department of Education (CDE) Programs - CalWORKs Stage 2 (C2AP), CalWORKs Stage 3 (C3AP), Alternative Payment, and Family Child Care Home Education Network (FCCHEN).

The California Department of Education (CDE) also provides free child care financial assistance and access to grants to low income families who qualify. You may be eligible to receive funding for paying for part or all of your child care costs and expenses if you meet the eligibility requirements. In addition, funding needs to be available and is often limited. All required information must be verified by staff before you receive any type of financial assistance.




The Family Assessment & Orientation (FAO) Department can also advise you. They will need to review your personal and financial condition, but at the end of the day they refer many Los Angeles residents to child care centers and assistance programs. They do focus on families who are currently receiving cash aid / TANF, or those who received it in the not so distant past.

Call the Los Angeles Child Care Resource Center at (818) 717-1000 for information or to apply for help for these or other free services.

By Jon McNamara

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