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Management Bulletin 21-03

Early Learning and Care Division

Subject: Revised Guidance on 12-Month Eligibility

Number: 21-03

Date: February 2021

Expires: Until rescinded, or superseded by the adoption of 12-Month Eligibility regulations

Authority: California Education Code (EC) Sections 8263(h) and (j), and 8263.1; Code of Federal Regulations, Title 45, Part 98, Section 98.21(a)(5)(i)

Attention: Executive Directors, and Program Directors of All Early Learning and Care Programs: Center-based Child Care (CCTR); California State Preschool (CSPP); Family Child Care Homes Education Networks (CFCC); Programs for Special Needs Children (Handicapped) (CHAN); Migrant (Center-based) (CMIG); CalWORKs Stage 2 (C2AP); CalWORKs Stage 3 (C3AP); California Alternative Payment Program (CAPP); Migrant Alternative Payment Program (CMAP); and Resources and Referral (CRRP)

NOTE: This management bulletin (MB) rescinds and replaces MB 17-4 and includes revised guidance for 12-month eligibility. All directives and guidance found in this MB supersede the guidance found in MB 17-14. All new text is bold and italicized to indicate the changes.


The purpose of this revised Management Bulletin (MB) is to provide guidance and instruction for implementation of the requirements in the California Education Code (EC) Section 8263(h), referred to as "12-month eligibility." In order to provide thorough guidance for contractors to implement 12-month eligibility and need for federal and state subsidized early learning and care (ELC) services administered by the California Department of Education (CDE), it is necessary to address sections of the California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR) that are directly impacted.

During the implementation of MB 17-14: 12-Month Eligibility, contractors have expressed concerns regarding the need to implement an “abandonment of care” policy in light of 12-month eligibility for families. Therefore, the CDE is adding a statewide policy in Section 18066.5 of the revised 12-Month Eligibility Implementation Guidance to address when families have been deemed to have abandoned care. The CDE has further removed the requirement for contractors to develop their own policies for unexcused absences, so contractors can continue to implement 12-month eligibility in a uniform manner that is fair to both families and contractors. The CDE has also provided additional specification regarding the recertification process.

This MB includes the 12-Month Eligibility Implementation Guidance - REVISED (Guidance) (Attachment A) regarding the changes to 5 CCR related to the changes to EC Section 8263. The attached guidance should be used in lieu of current 5 CCR sections which conflict with statute changes. A list of such sections is included below in the Policy section.

This MB supersedes all other MBs, or portions thereof, that are in direct conflict with the Guidance (Attachment A). It also rescinds the following MBs:

  • MB 06-14 Update to Changes in Law Affecting Child Care and Development Services for At Risk and Child Protective Services Families
  • MB 15-05 Extension of 60-day Limitation on Seeking Employment
  • MB 17-14 12-Month Eligibility


The EC Section 8263 provides criteria for establishing eligibility, enrollment, and priority for ELC services.

Assembly Bill (AB) 99, (Chapter 15, Statutes of 2017), and later, AB 2626, (Chapter 945, Statutes of 2018), amended EC Section 8263(h), as follows:

(h)(1) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) to (4), inclusive, upon establishing initial eligibility or ongoing eligibility for services under this chapter, a family shall be considered to meet all eligibility and need requirements for those services for not less than 12 months, shall receive those services for not less than 12 months before having their eligibility or need recertified, and shall not be required to report changes to income or other changes for at least 12 months.

(2) A family that establishes initial eligibility or ongoing eligibility on the basis of income shall report increases in income that exceed the threshold for ongoing income eligibility as described in subdivision (b) of Section 8263.1, and the family's ongoing eligibility for services shall at that time be recertified.

(3) A family may at any time voluntarily report income or other changes. This information shall be used, as applicable, to reduce the family's fees, increase the family's services, or extend the period of the family's eligibility before recertification.

The EC Section 8263(h) removed the limitation allowing only up to 3 months of service for a family who is receiving ELC services on the basis of being a child at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation and also removed the 60 working day extension for seeking employment as it related to 5 CCR Section 18086.5.

The EC Section 8263(j) permits the CDE to implement "12-month eligibility" through issuance of a MB or similar letter of instruction. This MB includes Guidance (Attachment A), which, pursuant to EC Section 8263(j), has the same force and effect in law as regulations promulgated through the formal rulemaking process. This guidance is effective immediately and will remain in place until regulations are adopted through the formal rulemaking process. In the interim, contractors should review their policies and procedures to ensure that they do not conflict with this MB and Guidance (Attachment A).

Additionally, relevant to this MB, AB 99 amended EC sections 8263 and 8263.1 resulting in changes to the following requirements:

  • Updated Income Rankings (MB 20-12)
  • Revised Family Fee Schedule (MB 20-13)

A separate MB has been issued for each of the requirements listed above. Please refer to those MBs for more information.


In accordance with EC sections 8263(h) and 8263.1, once a family establishes eligibility and need at initial certification or recertification, a family shall be considered to meet all eligibility and need requirements for not less than 12 months.

The changes to the regulations set forth in the Guidance (Attachment A) are intended to provide specificity and clarity regarding implementation of 12-month eligibility. It is important to highlight, in particular, four of those changes:

  • Families certified for services on the basis of seeking employment shall receive those services for not less than 12 months
  • All families must be recertified by the contractor no later than 50 calendar days following the last day of the 12-month certification period.
  • Families may voluntarily report changes decreasing their service need under specific conditions
  • Families must report within 30 days if income exceeds 85 percent of State Median Income (SMI)

Once certified, a family shall receive services for no less than 12 months, without having to report changes in eligibility or need, with the following exceptions:

  • Families certified as income eligible, when their adjusted monthly income adjusted for family size exceeds 85 percent of the SMI as published by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Families who voluntarily report changes in order to reduce family fees, increase service schedule, or extend the period of eligibility before recertification.
  • Families may be disenrolled if they have been found to have abandoned care.

The following 5 CCR sections have been aligned to implement EC sections 8263(h) and 8263.1, as authorized by EC Section 8263(j). These changes are reflected in the Guidance (Attachment A):

Title 5 Sections - REPEALED

  • 18102 Notice to Families of Their Responsibility to Notify Contractor of Changes to Family Circumstances
  • 18104 Limited Term Service Leave Requirements

Title 5 Sections - REVISED

  • 18066 Verification of Excused Absence: Policies
  • 18078 Definitions
  • 18084 Documentation of Income Eligibility 18086 Documentation of Employment
  • 18086.5 Documentation of Seeking Employment; Service Limitations 18087 Documentation of Training Towards Vocational Goals
  • 18088 Documentation of Parental Incapacity; Service Limitations 18090 Documentation of Homelessness
  • 18091 Documentation of Seeking Permanent Housing; Service Limitations 18096 Calculation of Income
  • 18103 Recertification (Modified)
  • 18406 Family Eligibility (CalWORKs, Stage 2)
  • 18408 Eligibility Duration (CalWORKs, Stage 2)
  • 18410 Contractor Responsibilities for Maintaining Family Eligibility (CalWORKs, Stage 2) 18421 Family Eligibility (CalWORKs, Stage 3)
  • 18423 Eligibility Duration (CalWORKs, Stage 3)
  • 18425 Contractor Responsibilities for Maintaining Family Eligibility (CalWORKs, Stage 3)

Title 5 Sections - ADDED

  • 18066.5 Abandonment of Care
  • 18084.1 Duration of Service Agreement
  • 18084.2 The Family's Right to Voluntarily Report Changes
  • 18084.3 Requirement to Report When Income Exceeds 85% of SMI

Families are considered eligible for no less than 12 months based on initial certification or recertification; therefore, the CDE will not consider changes in families' circumstances as an error or improper payment between initial certification and recertification (EC Section 8263[i]).


Contractors must continue to certify families based on eligibility and need criteria as stipulated in EC Section 8263(a) using the current 5 CCR as modified by the Guidance. Upon initial certification or recertification for ELC services, families are considered to meet all eligibility and need requirements, regardless of whether the basis of need is job search, and must receive services for not less than 12 months. Recertification should occur no later than 50 calendar days following the last day of the 12-month certification period, which starts with the day the agency’s authorized representative signed the last application for services.

During the 12-month eligibility period, families are no longer required to report changes in:

  • Income (except when families are certified as income eligible and their adjusted monthly income exceeds 85 percent of SMI, adjusted for family size)
  • Service need
  • Other changes

However, families may voluntarily request changes as follows:

  • To reduce their family fees (without a decrease to their service hours)
  • Increase their service hours (without an increase to the family fee)
  • As otherwise specified in the attached guidance

Additionally, families may voluntarily request a decrease in service hours. Additional detailed information is included in the Guidance (Attachment A) about under what conditions a family's service hours may be reduced.

  • Reassess the family fee in accordance with the directives outlined in MB 20-13. Document and certify the need to support the requested increase in service hours as applicable.
  • Issue a timely Notice of Action when any changes are implemented.

Note: Detailed information regarding these directives is included in the attached Guidance (Attachment A).

Attendance and Reimbursement

The CDE understands that many contractors have questions regarding the impact of 12-month eligibility on reimbursement and attendance. This MB does not change the manner in which contractors are reimbursed nor does it change the statutes with respect to attendance reporting.

Contractors must follow the directives in sections 18066 and 18066.5 of the revised Guidance which removes the requirement for contractors to develop their own policies for unexcused absences, and sets a statewide standard for when families must be disenrolled due to abandonment of care. Contractors must notify all families of this change by April 2, 2021.

The CDE recommends contractors work with families and providers to inform parents of the importance of consistent attendance and communication with the provider for their child in order to maximize the benefits of their early learning and care experience.

Other Relevant Information

If you have any questions regarding the information in this MB, please contact your assigned ELCD, Program Quality Implementation Office Regional Consultant via the ELCD Consultant Regional Assignments web page at or by phone at 916-322-6233.
Stephen Propheter, Director
Early Learning and Care Division

Questions:   Early Learning and Care Division | 916-322-6223
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, February 2, 2021
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