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Working Connections Child Care

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project - CLEAR Intake Line LSC Funded

Washington State 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 it?

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 and get a written decision on it.  The childcare eligibility rules are at WAC 170-290.

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

 

Am I eligible?

Families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines get childcare benefits on a “first come, first served” basis until the program reaches an enrollment cap. DSHS keeps a waiting list of potentially eligible families. DSHS sends families on the waiting list a letter when space becomes available. A family has ten days to respond. WAC 170-290-0001.

These families get priority access to WCCC without having to be on the waitlist:  

  • Families taking part in early head start-child care partnership slots

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

  • Families getting TANF benefits

  • Families trying to get out of WorkFirst sanction

  • Families of children with special needs

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

*To get WCCC, you must have at least one child and live in Washington. WAC 170-290-0005.

*If you get TANF but are in sanction, you can only get WCCC if you need childcare to get or keep a job, take part in a WorkFirst activity, or remove the sanction. WAC 170-290-0020(7)(a).

I do not get TANF. Will I qualify? 

If you are working at least 20 hours a week and taking part in education or training, DSHS may authorize childcare for your time spent in education or training. This includes transportation time and up to ten hours weekly of study. WAC 170-290-0045.

Which children are eligible? WAC 170-290-0005(2).

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

  • Children under age thirteen, OR age thirteen to nineteen if one of these is true:

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

    • The child is under court supervision.

Who can provide childcare? WAC 170-290-0125

  • A child may get care in an adult relative's home, or 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 U.S. citizen or legal resident.

    • 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 childcare 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 it work?

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

DSHS mails 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 says what types of care they will fund, and how to find a provider. WAC 170-290-0035(7)(b); WAC 170-290-0035(7)(c).

DSHS pays childcare subsidies based on how many hours you are working, looking for work, or doing WorkFirst activities, including transportation time from the childcare provider to work or activity and back. WAC 170-290-0040.

You must find a childcare provider who will accept the DSHS payment rate. It is lower than some providers charge. WAC 170-290-0030(2); WAC 170-290-0125(2)(a)(ii).

Do I pay a share of daycare?

Yes.  Your share is a co-payment. DSHS figures it two different ways:

  • If you do not pay child support, DSHS adds 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 support you pay based on a court or 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% - 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 find full-time work, DSHS will not include your TANF grant in the co-payment calculation for three months after starting your new job. WAC 170-290-0070(g).

INCOME STANDARDS FOR SUBSIDIZED CHILD CARE WAC 170-290-0075

Family
Size

Column 1
100%
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
If your income is between these amounts your co-pay is $65 or greater, depending on formula below

Column 5

137.5% of Federal Poverty Level

1

$1,005

$0 and $824

$824 and $1,382

$1,281 and $2,010

$1,382

2

$1,353

$0 and $1,109

$1,109 and $1,860

$1,735 and $2,706

$1,860

3

$1,702

$0 and $1,396

$1,396 and $2,340

$ 2,189 and $3,404

$2,340

4

$2,050

$0 and $1,681

$1,681 and $2,819

$ 2,642 and $4,100

$2,819

5

$2,398

$0 and $1,966

$1,966 and $3,297

$3,096 and $4,796

$3,297

6

$2,747

$0 and $2,253

$2,253 and $3,777

$3,550 and $5,494

$3,777

7

$3,095

$0 and $2,253

$2,253 and $4,256

$4,004 and $6,190

$4,256

8

$3,443

$0 and $2,823

$2,823 and $4,734

$4,457 and $6,886

$4,734

 

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 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. 

EXAMPLE 1
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.

EXAMPLE 2
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.     

EXAMPLE 3
Two parent family with one

$2,610     total earned and unearned income
-$2,340    minus 137.5% FPL for household of 3
$270
x    .5    multiply by .5
$135
+  $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.

Do I pay the co-payment directly to the childcare provider?

Yes. WAC 170-290-0030(3). DSHS also issues its portion of payment directly to the provider. WAC 170-290-0035(9).

What happens if I do not pay my co-payment?

DSHS may end your childcare funding. WAC 170-290-0110(1)(a).

Can my parents make the co-payment for me?

Any person or agency can pay your co-payment. They must pay your childcare provider directly.WAC 170-290-0030(3).

Can my provider charge me more than the co-payment DSHS says I should pay?

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

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

How do I ask for an administrative hearing?

If you disagree with a DSHS decision, you can ask for an administrative hearing.  You fill out a Hearing Request at your local welfare office OR write 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, call the Office of Administrative Hearings at (360) 407-2768 or 1-800-583-8271 to ask them to hold your hearing as soon as possible (an “expedited” hearing). 

Can I keep getting assistance under this program while I am waiting for them to schedule a hearing?

Yes. You can keep getting the same benefits if you ask for 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 “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 May 2018.
© 2018 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.)

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Last Review and Update: May 15, 2018
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