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Head Start Grantees and State Subsidy Programs

Frequently Asked Questions for Head Start grantees who may also serve children receiving state subsidy funds from the California Department of Education in order to answer questions for state and federal programs.
  1. What are the requirements for a family to qualify for a state subsidy?

    The California Department of Education (CDE) provides child care and development services for children from infancy to 13 years of age and their parents, including a full range of supervision, health, and support services through full-and part-time programs. (California Education Code [EC] Section 8201 (a)). Families must meet at least one requirement in each of the two qualifying categories to be eligible to receive subsidized child care services: (1) eligibility and (2) need.

    1. Eligibility:
      Eligibility criteria applies to all CDE contracts and is established when a family is: (1) a public assistance recipient, (2) income eligible, (3) homeless, or who has a child who is: (1) at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, or (2) receiving child protective services through the county welfare department. (EC 8201(a) and 8263(a)(1) and California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR) Section 18107)
    2. Need:
      Need criteria for all contracts (except Part-Day California State Preschool Program [CSPP]) is established when the family needs the child care services because the child is a recipient of protective services or is at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, or the parent(s) are: (1) employed, or seeking employment, (2) participating in training leading to a recognizable trade, paraprofession, or profession, (3) seeking permanent housing for family stability, or (5) incapacitated. (EC 8263(a)(2); 5 CCR 18085.5(b))

    Eligibility Priority for State Preschool Programs:
    State preschool programs provide part-day or full day child care and related services to prepare three to four-year-old children from low income families for kindergarten. Priorities are given to children who are recipients of child protective services, or who are at risk of being neglected or abused. To receive part-day CSPP services children shall be three- or four-years-old, and families must meet the eligibility criteria. Families receiving full-day services must meet both the eligibility and need criteria. (EC 8235)

    1. “CSPP eligible three-year-old children” refers to children who will have their third birthday on or before September 1, of the fiscal year in which they are enrolled in a CSPP.
    2. “CSPP eligible four-year-old children” refers to children who will have their fourth birthday on or before September 1, of the fiscal year in which they are enrolled in a CSPP.
  2. What are the eligibility requirements and documentation needed to maintain a subsidy, especially for students, self-employed and variable schedules? (EC 8261, 8263 and 5 CCR 18085, 18086 and 18087)

    For students:
    Services are limited with exceptions to whichever expires first: (1) six years from the initiation of services; or (2) twenty-four (24) semester units, or its equivalent, after the attainment of a Bachelor’s degree. (EC 8261, 8263, and 8265; and 5 CCR 18087). The parent shall provide documentation of the days and hours of vocational training to include:

    1. A statement of the parent’s vocational goal;
    2. The name of the training institution that is providing the vocational training;
    3. The dates that current quarter, semester, or training period, as applicable, will begin and end;
    4. A current class schedule that is either an electronic print-out from the training institution of the parent’s current class schedule, or, if unavailable, a document that includes the following:
      • The classes in which the parent is currently enrolled;
      • The days of the week and times of day of the classes; and
      • The signature or stamp of the training institution’s registrar.
    5. The anticipated completion date of all required training activities to meet the vocational goal; and
    6. Upon completion of a quarter, semester, or training period, as applicable, a report card, a transcript, or if the training institution does not use formal letter grades, other records to document that the parent is making progress toward the attainment of the vocational goal.
    7. Continuation of services based on training is contingent upon making adequate progress. To make progress each quarter, semester, or training period, as applicable, the parent shall, in the college classes, technical school, or apprenticeship for which subsidized care is provided:
      • In a graded program, earn a 2.0 grade point average; or
      • In a non-graded program, pass the program’s requirements in at least 50 percent of the classes or meet the training institution’s standards for making adequate progress.

    For self-employed:
    If the parent is self-employed, the documentation of need based on employment shall consist of the following:

    1. Parent provided information that includes:
      • A declaration of need under penalty of perjury that includes a description of the employment and an estimate of the days and hours worked per week;
      • To demonstrate the days and hours worked, a copy of one (1) or more of the following: appointment logs, client receipts, job logs, mileage logs, a list of clients with contract information, or similar records; and
      • As applicable, a copy of a business license, a workspace lease, or a workspace rental agreement.
    2. A statement by the contractor assessing the reasonableness of the total number of days and hours requested per week based on the description of the employment and documentation provided.
    3. If the contractor is unable to make a reasonable assessment of the hours needed for self-employment, the contractor may divide the parent’s self-employment income by the applicable minimum wage and the resulting quotient shall be the maximum hours needed for employment per month.

    For Variable Hours (5 CCR 18086 (D)):
    If the parent has unpredictable hours of employment, the contractor shall authorize the parent for a variable schedule not to exceed the number of hours determined to be needed per week. Need for services for unpredictable hours shall be updated at least every four months.

    When the employed parent does not have pay stubs or other record of wages from the employer and has provided a self-certification of income, the contractor shall assess the reasonableness of the days and hours of employment, based on the description of the employment and the documentation provided, and authorize only the time determined to be reasonable.

  3. What happens when a family loses income eligibility but continues to have a qualifying need? Are they still eligible for state subsidized services? (EC 8263.1 (e)(f)) and 5 CCR 18083(e) and (g))

    Contractors must certify family/child eligibility prior to enrollment and at the time of recertification which is based on the reason for needing services and eligibility status. When a family’s adjusted monthly income is at or above 70 percent of the state median income, adjusted for family size, the family is no longer eligible for child care. The income of a recipient of federal supplemental security income (SSI) or state supplemental program (SSP) is not included as income for the purposes of determining eligibility.

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  1. Can subsidy programs offer training for parents during breaks where parents do not otherwise have a qualifying need for service? (EC 8261, 8263 and 8265; 5 CCR 18085.5, 18087, and 18104)

    For families who are eligible for CDE subsidized child care and development services based on income, public assistance, or homelessness CDE contractors must document that each parent in the family, as defined by 5 CCR 18078(f), meets an eligibility criteria and need criteria. (EC 8263). The need criteria are: (1) vocational training leading directly to a recognized trade, paraprofession, or profession; (2) employment or seeking employment; (3) seeking permanent housing for family stability; and (4) incapacitation.

    Subsidized child care and development services shall only be available to the extent to which:

    1. The parent meets a need criterion as specified in subdivision (a) that precludes the provision of care and supervision of the family’s child for some of the day
    2. There is no parent in the family capable of providing care for the family’s child during the time care is requested; and
    3. Supervision of the family’s child is not otherwise being provided by school or another person or entity

    Where there is a change in the qualifying need for services, parents must notify the agency within five calendar days of the change in order to retain subsidized eligibility for services.

    Any training must support the parent’s vocational goal.  A parent may change his or her vocational goal, but services shall be limited to the time or units remaining from the initiation of the provision of services for vocational training. (5 CCR 18087(i))

    If a parent has an approved vocational plan and goal to obtain a child development permit, and hours of experience in a child development/Head Start program are a part of their approved vocational plan, those parents may obtain those hours during breaks and continue to have a qualifying need for service.

    In certain circumstances, CDE contractors may consider a limited term service leave from employment or training not to exceed 16 consecutive weeks in duration if the leave is for:

    1. Medical or family leave; or
    2. A period when the vocational training program is not in session during spring, fall, or winter breaks.
  2. What is the state subsidy requirement for determining eligibility for children of immigrants and their families? (5 CCR 18107 (d))

    Eligibility for children of immigrants and their families is determined without regard to the immigration status of the child or the child’s parent(s) unless the child or the child’s parent(s) is under a final order of deportation from the United States Department of Homeland Security.

  3. What is the state expectation for sign-in/out sheets for center based contractors (California State Preschool Program [CSPP], Center Based Program [CCTR], and Migrant Program [CMIG] contract types) or Alternative Payment Program types when a child is in a program using both Head Start and state contracts funds? (EC 8261 and 5 CCR 18063)

    For center based contractors, the contractor shall use daily sign-in/sign-out sheets as a primary source document for audit and reimbursement purposes.

    One of the following persons shall enter the time of arrival and departure on a sign-in/sign-out sheet and, except as specified below, shall sign the sheet using their full signature for both arrival and departure times:

    1. The parent or other adult authorized by the parent to drop off/pick up a child; or
    2. The staff person designated by the contractor as the person responsible for entering the times of arrival and departure if the child is not dropped off/picked up by a parent or other adult authorized by the parent.

    First and last initials of the contractor’s authorized representative along with a notation of the time are required to document when a school-age child departs for and returns from school during the day.

    Example: If a state subsidy child has been approved for four hours of care per day, but the Head Start Program is eight hours long, what does the sign-in/out sheet need to look like? (CSPP, CCTR, and CMIG contract types) The CDE does not have a standard form for monthly attendance sign-in/sign-out sheets. However, pursuant to EC 8221.5, the monthly attendance/invoice must have a place in which the following information can be documented:

    1. The name of the child receiving services;
    2. The specific date services were provided;
    3. The actual times the child entered, and the time the child departed care for each day services were provided; and
    4. Signatures of both the provider and the parent/guardian at the end of each month, attesting under penalty of perjury, that the information on the attendance record or invoice is accurate.

    For California Alternative Payment Programs (CAPP), California Migrant Alternative Payment (CMAP), California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Programs Stage 2 (C2AP), or CalWORKs Stage 3 (C3AP) a parent needs to sign in the times of arrival and departure on a daily basis. For more information, please refer to Management Bulletin 14-04. Alternative Payment Programs (CAPP and CMAP) and CalWORKs (C2AP and C3AP) contractors are required to utilize daily sign-in and sign-out sheets for reimbursement purposes, as described in 5 CCR 18065. Pursuant to EC 8221.5, the monthly attendance record or invoice is required for each child who received services. At a minimum, the record documents the dates and actual times care was provided each day, including the time the child entered and the time the child left care each day.

    The contractor shall use the monthly attendance record or invoice as primary source document for audit and reimbursement purposes.

    Child care providers shall submit a monthly attendance record or invoice for each child who received services through an alternative payment or CalWORKs program. Child care providers shall maintain attendance records or invoices in the original format in which they were created.

    The monthly attendance record or invoices shall include, at a minimum:

    1. The dates and actual times the child entered and left care each day. This information shall be documented on a daily basis.
    2. The signature of the parent or guardian, the name of the child receiving services and signature of the child care provider attesting under penalty of perjury that the information included on the monthly attendance record or invoice is true and accurate.

    For purposes of providers under a CAPP, C2AP, or C3AP contract, contractors shall reimburse child care providers based on the following criteria:

    1. The hours of service provided that are broadly consistent with the certified hours of need;
    2. For families with variable schedules, the actual days and hours of attendance, up to the maximum certified hours;
    3. For license-exempt providers, that provide part-time services, the actual days and hours of attendance, up to the maximum certified hours.

    Contractors operating an Alternative Payment Program (APP) may use an alternative to daily sign-in/sign-out sheets as documentation of attendance or reimbursement purposes with the prior written approval of the CDE.

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  1. What happens if a parent receives a Notice of Action to terminate the State subsidy? (5 CCR 18094, 18095, 18120, and 18121)

    Once a change of status for families occurs, their service agreement will be updated. When this happens, the contractor will issue via mail or delivery the Notice of Action (NOA) to the parents at least fourteen (14) calendar days before the effective date of the intended action.

    1. If the parent disagrees with the action, they may file a request for a hearing with the contractor fourteen (14) calendar days from the date the NOA was received.
    2. Upon the filling of a request for hearing, the intended action shall be suspended until the review process has been completed. The review process is complete when the appeal process has been exhausted, or when the parent(s) abandons the appeal process.
    3. Within ten (10) calendar days following receipt of request for a hearing, the contractor notifies the parent(s) of the time and place of the hearing. (Contractor to schedule hearing.)
    4. A written decision is mailed or delivered to the parent(s) within ten (10) calendar days after the hearing. If the parent disagrees with the written decision from the contractor, the parent has fourteen (14) calendar days to appeal to the CDE Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD). If the parent(s) do(es) not submit the appeal request within fourteen (14) days, the parent(s) appeal process is deemed abandoned and the contractor may implement the intended action.

    The decision of the CDE, ELCD is mailed or delivered to the parent(s) and to the contractor within thirty (30) calendar days after receipt of the appeal request.

    Child care services must continue through appeal process.
  2. What does a California Department of Education (CDE) Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD) contractor do if a family no longer has a need for full-day care? (EC 8263 (c))

    When a family no longer has a need for full day child care services, CDE contractors may transfer eligible children to a part-day CSPP program.

  3. What happens if a contractor does not fully earn its state contract, will the contract be reduced?

    If a contractor does not fully earn their state contract over several years, there is the possibility that their contract may be reduced. The CDE reduces a contractor’s current year maximum reimbursement amount due to the contractor's inability to utilize its full contract amount, whether through low enrollment or low expenditures for the same contract type. Contractors who fail to operate at least 98 percent of the contract minimum days of operation (MDO) will have the contract maximum reimbursable amount (MRA) "shall be reduced in proportion to the percentage of the contract minimum days of operation that the contractor was not in operation" (5 CCR 18055).

    Every February, the CDE conducts an annual contract review of those contractors that earned less than 95 percent the prior fiscal year. CDE looks at the current year earnings and earnings from the two prior fiscal years. If a permanent reduction to the contract is proposed to the contract MRA, the contractor will be contacted to discuss the proposed reduction. If the contractor disagrees with the proposed cut, the contractor is provided two (2) weeks to submit a written justification to not cut the contract MRA. The justification may result in the proposed cut being reduced to $0, partially reduced, or the proposed cut may stand.

  4. What can staff members do to help a family retain their subsidy?

    Family Services workers, ELCD staff, and other staff can play an important role in educating and informing families about subsidized child care and helping families understand their role and responsibility retaining services. Helping families meet and follow all legal requirements and agency policies as well as the knowing when to report any changes in family income, family size, or the need for services to the contractor within five (5) calendar days of the change and how to submit the required documents in a timely manner will help them retain their subsidy.

    Also, informing parents about the importance of the child’s daily attendance sheet and educating them about using full signatures to sign-in/out on a daily basis is critical not only for the health and safety of their child but as well as maintaining accurate documentation and participation in the program. (EC 8263 (a)(2) and 5 CCR 18102).

    Some of the common “changes in status” for families are as follows:

    1. Employment (loss, reduction, change)
    2. Training (ended, stop participation, not making satisfactory progress)
    3. Seeking Employment (Sixty [60] days expires, no longer actively seeking)
    4. Temporary Parental Incapacity ends
    5. Change in family size
    6. Parent Fees (increase or decrease)
    7. Service hours (increase or decrease)
    8. Termination of services

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Questions:   Early Learning and Care Division | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Friday, February 17, 2023
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