Illinois Child Care AssistanceIllinois Child Care Assistance and Benefits

In the state of Illinois, the Department of Human Services (IDHS) provides financial assistance for Child Care, with Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) administrating the program. Generally, the subsidy will be provided to the families who will fall under or at 162% of the federal poverty level at the time of applying, but if you have special needs, then you must fall below 185% of FPL to be eligible for Child Care fee assistance.

The re-eligibility will be determined at least every six months or as the department seems it necessary. Depending upon the family size and its income, the family will have to pay a part of the money to the service provider under this subsidized scheme. All children under the age of 13 are eligible for the program. Children over the age of 13 will have to produce a written document by a medical provider stating that he/she is incapable of his/her care.

Different types of programs are present which you can choose as per your needs, including Family Child Care, Child Care centers, Head Start, and early Head Start. Full time, 5 hours a day or more, and part-time care are provided by the providers which parent(s) can choose from a range of caregivers that are licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services or legally license-exempted homes or centers. All of the types are directly or indirectly regulated under various laws that they will have to follow. Nutritional meals, napping, and sleeping and physical space are just some of the things which Child Care providers must observe for a good job.

Eligibility for the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program:

The applicant of the program should be:

  • A resident of Illinois
  • A recipient of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
  • A teen parent who is enrolled to get a high school degree
  • Families whose monthly income does not exceed with current 162% of the federal poverty level
  • Participant in the CCAP eligible employment activity

To accommodate as many cases as possible, CCR&Rs and site programs have already been instructed to speed up the process. If you have already applied for the program and are waiting for the confirmation, you have no need to apply again but if you have been rejected for having 50% FPL income, you need to reapply for the process. Gross income will include income from all sources including child support. Depending upon your family size, the maximum gross monthly base income is given as under.

Family size Gross monthly base income 162% FPL
2 $2163
3 $2722
4 $3281
5 $3840
6 $4399
7 $4959
8 $5521
9 $6082
10 $6644

To check the eligibility criteria further and to check your eligibility status, please click here.

Procedure After Approval in the Program:

In case you are accepted to the program, all forms, including Re-determination form, Change of Information form and change of provider form, must be requested at assistance@childcarehelp.com with the necessary information along with the type of the form(s). Parents will have to complete the application with the Child Care service provider. After 30 days of the submission of the application, parents or guardians and the service provider will be notified but the acceptance or denial of the application.

How Much Will the Child Care Program be Subsidized?

When a family is availing financial assistance for the Child Care, they will have to pay co-payment to the caregivers. Co-payment is the amount that the family needs to pay to the service providers.

Co-payment can differ from provider to provider. First of all, a provider cannot charge the state more than it charges to its private customers. Secondly, based on family size and income, the state will give subsidies to the family. The rest of the amount will be provided by the family. The family will get the written notification of the co-payment amount which they will have to pay on the Approval notice at the time of their application approval. The subsidized amount will be provided directly to the provider by the department.

If your provider charges private paying parents a higher rate than the IDHS program, the family will have to compensate the provider for any further asked expenses because the state will only provide the pre-defined financial assistance which varies from case to case.

It is in the best interest of both the parents and providers to have an average cost estimate for the service to avoid any inconvenience. In case of higher rates of any specific provider, parent(s) can contact CCR&Rs at 1 (800) 552-5526 or (815) 741-1179 for cheaper service providers. The parents will have to provide two latest checks from their employer while applying for financial assistance. No check older than 30 days will be accepted at the time of application submission.

Types of Illinois Child Care

 There are following types of Illinois Child Care service providers:

  • Family Child Care
  • Child Care centers
  • Head Start
  • Early Head Start

Family Child Care:

This service is beneficial for the parents who want their children to be in the home-like environment all the time. While each service has its charms, family Child Care is beneficial in the sense that it provides this service for children in their homes. Different types of Family care service are available including:

Licensed Family Child Care providers

Licensed by the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS), these providers will have to all of the following guidelines:

  • The caregiver will be at least 21 years of age
  • Suspected child abuse will immediately be reported to the department
  • All the mandatory protective equipment, including first aid kit, operatable fire extinguisher, protective coating on electric appliances and smoke detectors will be present in the house
  • A separate area will be present so that the presence of elder children must not disturb the younger children
  • Snacks will be served to the children after their arrival from school
  • Children under 30 months of age will not be allowed to be in kitchens, bathrooms, or likewise places unattended
  • A caretaker alone will be allowed to have a maximum of 12 school-age children
  • Medical report for each child will be filled separately
  • Children under five years of age will not be left unattended in the bathtubs
  • Depending upon the length of the day, the facility will have to provide one-third to two-thirds of the nutritional requirement to the children
  • Children will be offered a mix of indoor and outdoor activities for their proper growth
Licensed Family Child Care Group Home providers

These providers are also licensed by DCFS; however, depending on their licensed capacity, they may care for an additional number of school-aged children. Besides, they will be bound to provide the facilities mentioned above to the children.

License-Exempt Family Child Care providers

These service providers are not licensed by the state of Illinois, but family, friends, neighbors, and nanny care can be included in this. Under these providers, care can be given in children’s homes or their own homes.

Child Care Centers

Many parents prefer their children to be in the environment of Child Care centers instead of family Child Care centers. Under this rigorous system of institutionalism, a child can get many benefits. These centers have the following types.

Licensed Child Care Centers

Licensed by the Illinois Department of Child & Family Services (DCFS), these centers have their advantage and provide the following perks to the children and the family.

  • At least 21 years of age, the Child Care centers will have a qualified director present all the times ta the centers who have at least completed two years of college. This will result in the brilliant supervision of children under the experienced supervisor
  • No teacher will be younger than 19
  • In the case of infants, staff to child ratio is 1 ratio 4, which will reduce the chances of children being ignored by the staff. In the case of school-age kids, the staff to student ratio is 1 ratio 20, so every child will get a fair chance to interact with the teachers
  • Parents can visit the centers any time without any prior notice for their satisfaction. This gives parents a fair chance to observe the arrangements at the daycare centers
  • For the use of both small and large body muscles, daily indoor and outdoor activities are being arranged for the proper growth of children
  • Children will not be left unattended at any time
  • Meals and snacks provided by the centers should satisfy the nutritional needs
  • Hot, cold running water will be available all the time to the children
  • Toddlers and infants will have cared at ground levels for their safety as far as the department does not give permission
  • Each child will have his bed or cot
  • Whenever children are sleeping, the staff will be awake in case of any emergency
  • Among the prohibited things are corporal punishment, abusive language, withdrawal of food or toilet, and public or private humiliation. This step provides children more room to grow as this is important for their future as punishments often destroy the potential of children
  • For the sake of children’s safety, the driver of the bus will be at least 21 years of age with a valid driving license
  • Every child will have a documented health record
License-Exempt Child Care Centers

These service providers are not licensed by DCFS. Exempt centers can include the following types of facilities: programs in public, a private or secondary school serving children.

  • 3 years and older
  • Programs offered by the places of worship like the church where the child is being cared for less than 10 hours a week. This is useful for those parents who have a little work to do and who don’t need full time or half-time Child Care service
  • NGOs and governmental organizations also offer short term special activities. This type of care also comes under license-exempted Child Care centers

For more information, call 1-877-202-4453 (toll-free) or visit: http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=68333 for an online application.
For manual application visit: http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=68334.

Head Start:

This program is specifically designed for children who come from low-income houses. As not every parent can afford expensive Child Care, these types of programs help both parents and children. Established in 1965, this program develops cognitive and social skills in children from ages three to five. In this program, the children are treated by well-educated supervisors who make sure that these children from deprived families don’t get demotivated in the competitive world. The programs actively involve parents in the process of making sure that the children hit their goals.

Early Head Start:

Established in 1995, this program also helps children from deprived backgrounds. Specially designed for low-income families, this program is different from Head Start in the sense that it focuses on the unique needs of toddlers and infants. Through enriched caregiving, this program grows children mentally as well as physically to make sure that they may rise to the point of self-sufficiency. Both Head Start and Early Head Start are designed in a way to ensure that parents don’t get worried too much about their children that they start neglecting them.

Resources

Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS)

Illinois Action for Children (IAFC)

Illinoise Facilities Fund A Century of Caring for Children

Child Care Resource Service Licensing Regulations

Illinois Head Start Association (IHSA)

Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM)