Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Grants: Start Up & Child Care Subsidies


By Julie Shuell, MPA
Foundations for Families Consultant

By now, most winning organizations have negotiated their Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) federal funding award with a federal Program Specialist at an ACF Regional Office. Quality infant/toddler child care, including the comprehensive services offered in EHS, is expensive. As part of these awards, many grantees plan, and need, to rely on child care subsidies[1] to augment their federal EHS-CCP award.  Budgeting for an EHS-CC Partnership model that includes revenue from child care subsidies is complicated yet critical to success.

When planning for revenue from child care subsidies, Project Directors and their fiscal team should do the following:

  • Forecast how many children in your partnership model are likely to be eligible for subsidy, currently enrolled in subsidy or able to access subsidy. This information should be aligned with the project’s recruitment/enrollment strategies, enrollment and waitlist prioritization system, and plans for family support. A partnership with the local agency administering subsidy should be in place to ensure communication about participating families subsidy status in order to support families remaining on subsidy.
  • Estimate how much revenue to expect for your organization and/or child care partners based on participating families, average child attendance days, absences (paid or not), and program operating weeks/hours.
  • Determine if parents will be assessed a co-pay by the state CCDF agency and whether this will be a barrier to their participation in the program.
  • Plan to cover lapses in subsidy when families lose their job, have breaks in school, or are finished with training and looking for employment.

As a result of the reauthorization of the CCDF block grant, changes are coming to child care subsidy programs nationwide. Head Start State Collaboration Director and/or State Child Care Administrators can help grantees understand the changes and opportunities to provide feedback. With new EHS-CC Partnership grants in all states and grantees who plan on accessing subsidy revenues, conversations should be happening now to ensure success of the new projects.

Foundations for Families has expertise in fiscal management, budgeting, revenue planning/forecasting and state subsidy policies. We can help you model different scenarios and plan for the best use of limited resources. We can help you think about ways to work with your subsidy agency to help your child care partners maximize subsidy access. Planning appropriately for the use of this funding can stretch the federal EHS dollars to support the high cost of a high quality, comprehensive, early care and education program for infants and toddlers in your community. Foundations for Families offers training, technical support and coaching for success during the implementation of the start-up period.

[1] Subsidies, vouchers, assistance or certificates are terms for how the Child Care & Development Block (CCDF or CCDBG) grant plays out in states, territories and tribes. These terms refer to funding that helps some families afford child care costs. States set eligibility guidelines for families that quality including income, participation in eligible activities (employment, training, school), and status (i.e. TANF, homelessness, foster care). States also determine parental co-pays and amount of assistance based on type of care (home, center), hours needed, and prevailing costs. In some states, families that receive assistance get vouchers (or benefits loaded on an EBT card) to use when paying a provider. In other states, providers submit information on child attendance and receive payment from the state directly for enrolled children. In some cases, states purchase slots in child care programs and refer subsidy children into them. Income eligible EHS families are also income eligible for child care subsidy assistance; the latter being available to families often slightly above poverty. However, the pot of funding for child care assistance is limited so not all families who need it, or apply for it will receive it.

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