By Nichelle Adams, Early Education and Child Care Services Manager, Kansas Department for Children and Families. Originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of Kansas Child Magazine.
To be initially eligible for Child Care Assistance, a family of four can make nearly 70,000 a year.
Many Kansas families would benefit from financial assistance to pay for safe, quality child care, but they don’t always know where to turn.
When families hear about the Kansas Child Care Assistance program, or child care subsidy program, they often think that it is designed for low-income families. However, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) recently increased the initial eligibility income to 250% of the federal poverty level, which is much higher than many people realize.
For a family of three, the initial monthly gross income limit is $4,798. Gross income includes all wages before taxes, benefits, or other expenses are taken out.
For a family of four, the initial monthly gross income limit is $5,783. Once a family becomes initially eligible, the income limits increase at the next annual review so that the family may remain eligible.
To be eligible for Kansas Child Care Assistance:
- The family must have an approvable need for child care.
- The child must be a U.S. citizen or qualifying non-citizen.
- The family must use a DCF-enrolled provider or a licensed provider who is willing to become enrolled and completes the process.
Certain adult relatives — such as grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, or aunts and uncles — may also become DCF-enrolled providers.
The amount of assistance a family is eligible for depends on many factors, including income level, the provider’s rates vs. the maximum DCF rates for various types of providers and ages of children, and whether full-time or part-time care is needed.
How to Use Child Care Assistance
More good news: Higher Child Care Assistance rates mean that families can choose from a wider array of providers. The maximum DCF rates have been increased to the 85th percentile for all age groups and provider types, based on the findings from the most recent market rate analysis completed in Kansas. This means that 85 out of 100 child care providers that were part of the market rate analysis in Kansas charge the maximum rate allowed by DCF or less.
When Child Care Assistance benefits are authorized, they’re loaded onto the child care account of an electronic Kansas Benefits card, which is like a debit card. To pay a provider, the family authorizes the transfer of the funds to the provider’s account. These benefits may only be used to pay for child care with a DCF-enrolled provider.
Kansas Child Care Assistance
For more information about Kansas Child Care Assistance, visit ksqualitynetwork.org and navigate to the Families tab, call 1-888-369-4777, or go to any DCF office across the state.