FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2012
DCFS Announces Changes in Child Care Assistance Program Rules
Federal Budget Loss Prompts Changes in Absence, Income Eligibility Limits
BATON ROUGE - The Department of Children and Family Services today announced it is issuing an emergency rule to reduce the maximum income limit for Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) eligibility, as well as reduce paid absences to providers for CCAP services, as a result of previous reductions in federal funding. These changes should result in a savings of $10.1 million a year.
"While the changes we are making to the CCAP program are prompted by a reduction in federal funding, our continued focus is to ensure that children enrolled in CCAP are attending child care so that they can have as many opportunities for high quality early learning and development as possible," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier.
Effective August 1, 2012, DCFS will pay up to two absences per month for each child enrolled in CCAP, which will help ensure that children spend more time in high quality early learning and development environments. Currently, DCFS pays for up to five absences per month for each child. Child care providers have the option to charge parents of children enrolled in CCAP for any absences above what is covered by DCFS.
During Fiscal Year 2011, the department paid for 75,895 absent days. This change in policy is expected to save around $3.3 million.
In addition, income eligibility for CCAP will reduce from 65 percent of the State Median Income (SMI) to 55 percent, bringing Louisiana more in line with other states in the nation. The SMI varies depending on the size of the household. Currently a family of 4 making $3,559 gross a month may be eligible for CCAP. That amount will be reduced to $3,011 as a result of the change announced today.
"By changing Louisiana's income eligibility requirements, we will bring our state more in line with other states," said Sonnier. "More than half of other states have lower income eligibility limits than Louisiana's current rate of 65 percent SMI, and in 2010, about 33 states had lower income eligibility requirements than Louisiana."
Sonnier said that CCAP helps low-income families that are working or attending school or training pay for child care. Eligibility is based on the number of hours parents work or attend school or training, family size and household income.
In state fiscal year 2011, CCAP served an average of 25,799 children each month. The change in income eligibility requirements will impact services to about 1,800 children, approximately the same number of children who roll off of CCAP each year as they enter Pre-K and Kindergarten.
Sonnier added that the changes taking effect August 1 are based on federal budget reductions. DCFS will carefully monitor the services and budget over the next few months. If unchanged, DCFS may have to implement a freeze on new CCAP applications in spring of 2013. This additional step is only tentative and would be announced well in advance of implementation.