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Working Connections Child Care

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded

7919EN - Washington State now has subsidized child care for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and low-income working parents. It's called Working Connections Child Care (WCCC).

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What is Working Connections Child Care?

Washington State subsidizes (pays part of) childcare for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and some low-income working parents.  DSHS calls this benefit Working Connections Child Care (WCCC). 

*You can apply for childcare at your local DSHS Community Services Office (CSO), by calling 1-877-501-2233, or online at https://www.washingtonconnection.org/home/.  At the CSO, you have the right to make a written application for childcare and get a written decision on your application.  The rules for childcare eligibility are in the Washington Administrative Code at WAC 170-290.

*You have the right to get free interpretation or translation services to help you apply. WAC 170-290-0025(7).


Which parents are eligible for help with childcare?

Families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines will get childcare benefits on a "first come, first served" basis until the program reaches an enrollment cap of 33,000 cases. DSHS will keep a waiting list of potentially eligible families who apply when DSHS reaches its cap.  DSHS will send a letter to families on the waiting list when space becomes available. The family has ten days to respond. WAC 170-290-0001.

When DSHS reaches it enrollment cap, these families will get priority access to WCCC without having to be on the waitlist:  

  • Families participating in early head start-child care partnership slots

  • families who are homeless as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act

  • Families getting TANF benefits, including child-only TANF cases

  • Families who are working to cure their WorkFirst sanction

  • Families of children with special needs

  • Teen parents living independently from their parent or guardian, attending high school full-time, who enroll their child in on-site child care at their high school

*To get WCCC, you must be a caretaker of at least one child and live in the State of Washington WAC 170-290-0005.

*TANF recipients in sanction can only get WCCC if they need childcare to get or keep a job, participate in a WorkFirst activity, or remove the sanction. WAC 170-290-0020(7)(a).

Which children are eligible for care under this program? WAC 170-290-0005(2).

  • Children who are citizens or legally living in the U.S.

  • Children under age thirteen

  • Children between the ages of thirteen and nineteen if:

    • a medical provider gives a statement that the child is physically, mentally, or emotionally incapable of self-care (as defined in WAC 170-290-0220  or

    • the child is under court supervision

Who can provide childcare under this program? WAC 170-290-0125

  • A child may get care in an adult relative's home or the child may be cared for in the child's home by an adult friend, neighbor, or relative. WAC 170-290-0125(1). The friend or in-home/relative provider must:

    • be 18 or older

    • be a citizen or legal resident of the U.S.

    • register with the department, meet minimum health and safety requirements, and pass a criminal background check (WAC 170-290-0130)

  • Licensed childcare centers and family homes. WAC 170-290-0125(2)

  • Certified childcare providers such as tribal child care facilities, childcare facilities on a military installation, or on public school property and run by a school district. WAC 170-290-0125(2)(b).

How does the program work?

Parent/caretaker applies at local DSHS office, by phone, or online.

DSHS will mail you a letter within 30 days of applying saying if you qualify for benefits. WAC 170-290-0035(2).

If you qualify and DSHS approves your application, the letter will say you what types of care they will fund, and how you can find and choose a provider. WAC 170-290-0035(7)(b); WAC 170-290-0035(7)(c).

DSHS will pay childcare subsidies based on the number of hours the parent/caretaker is working, looking for work, or doing WorkFirst activities, including transportation time from the childcare provider to work or other activity and back. WAC 170-290-0040.

Even if you do not get TANF, if you are working 20 hours a week or more and participating in education or training, DSHS may authorize childcare for your time spent in education or training activities.  This includes transportation time and up to ten hours weekly of study time. WAC 170-290-0045.

Parents must find a childcare provider willing to accept their child at the DSHS payment rate. This is a lower amount than some providers charge. WAC 170-290-0030(2); WAC 170-290-0125(2)(a)(ii).

Must parents pay a share of daycare costs?

Yes.  The parents' share is a co-payment. DSHS figures the co-payment two different ways:

  • If you do not pay child support: DSHS figures your co-payment by adding the total amount of all gross earned and unearned income. WAC 170-290-0060; WAC 170-290-0065. This is your countable income.

  • If you pay child support: your countable income is the sum of total income minus the amount of child support you paid based on a state order, tribal court order, or Division of Child Support administrative order. WAC 170-290-0070(2).

    • If your countable income is at or below 82% of Federal Poverty Level (Column 2 in the chart below), your co-pay = $15.

    • If your countable income is over 82% up to 137.5% of Federal Poverty Level (Column 3 in the chart below), your co-pay = $65. 

    • If your countable income is over 137.5% through 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (Column 5 in chart below), DSHS figures your co-pay using the formula below.

If you get TANF and you find full-time work, your TANF grant will not be included in the co-payment calculation for the three months after starting your new job. WAC 170-290-0070(g).




Column 1
Federal Poverty Level for Family Size

Column 2
If your "total" income is between these amounts your co-pay is $15

Column 3
If your "total" income is between these amounts your co-pay is $65

Column 4

Column 5

137.5% of Federal Poverty Level

Total income is adjusted earned income plus unearned income.



$0 and $824

$824 and $1,382

$1,281 and $2,010




$0 and $1,109

$1,109 and $1,860

$1,735 and $2,706




$0 and $1,396

$1,396 and $2,340

$ 2,189 and $3,404




$0 and $1,681

$1,681 and $2,819

$ 2,642 and $4,100




$0 and $1,966

$1,966 and $3,297

$3,096 and $4,796




$0 and $2,253

$2,253 and $3,777

$3,550 and $5,494




$0 and $2,253

$2,253 and $4,256

$4,004 and $6,190




$0 and $2,823

$2,823 and $4,734

$4,457 and $6,886


Formula:  Families with income between the two amounts in column 4 subtract 137.5% FPL (column 5) from their countable income, multiply by .5 and then add $65.  Families whose income is greater than the high figure in column 4 are not eligible for subsidized childcare. WAC 170-290-0075(2). *All amounts are monthly. 

A parent with three children earns gross income of $500 per month and gets $392 in TANF.

Figure total income: 

$500      earned income
+$392    unearned income
$892      total income
Figure co-payment:  Family size is 4; go to row of chart with that family size.  Total income is between $0 and $1,681 so co-payment is $15.

A person with two children earns gross income of $1,800 monthly.  Parent owes $300 per month in court-ordered child support.

$1,800      earned income
-$300       minus child support
$1,500     equals countable income
Figure co-payment:  Family size is 3; go to row of chart with that family size.
Countable income is between $1,396 and $2,340 so copayment is $65.     

Two parent family with one

$2,610     total earned and unearned income
-$2,340    minus 137.5% FPL for household of 3
x    .5    multiply by .5
+  $65   add $65
$200     is the amount of co-payment each month

*Every family will have a childcare co-payment of $15 or higher depending on the family's income. WAC 170-290-0075.

  • You make your co-payment directly to your childcare provider. WAC 170-290-0030(3).

  • DSHS may terminate (end) your childcare funding if you do not pay your co-payment. WAC 170-290-0110(1)(a).

  • It is okay for any other person or agency to pay your co-payment, if they pay your childcare provider directly.WAC 170-290-0030(3).

  • Childcare providers cannot require payment above the co-payment amount to keep your child in care.  Providers have agreed to accept the payment rate paid under WCCC for your child.WAC 170-290-0034(10).

  • Childcare providers may not charge you fees for processing payments and paperwork, or for materials, supplies, or equipment needed to meet licensing requirements. WAC 170-290-0034(11).

  • DSHS issues its portion of payment directly to the childcare provider. WAC 170-290-0035(9).

How do I request a hearing?

.If you disagree with a DSHS decision, you may ask for an administrative hearing.  You should fill out a Hearing Request at your local welfare office OR write to the Office of Administrative Hearings, P.O. Box 42489, Olympia, WA 98504 within 90 days of the date you get a decision. WAC 170-290-0280. If it is an emergency, ask to have your hearing held as soon as possible (an "expedited" hearing) by calling the Office of Administrative Hearings at (360) 407-2768 or 1-800-583-8271. 

*Our publication Representing Yourself at an Administrative Hearing has more info.

You may keep getting the same benefits if you request a hearing within ten days of the date on the notice or before the date the notice takes effect, except if your childcare certification has run out.  This is called "continued assistance" while you are waiting for your hearing. WAC 170-290-0285.


This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. 
This information is current as of March 2017.
© 2017 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014

(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial use only.)
Last Review and Update: Mar 21, 2017