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Child Care Subsidy Program FAQ for Families: Learn More About Eligibility and How to Apply!

NEW! DC families can apply for the child care subsidies online. Click here to access the application.

What is the subsidized child care program?

The child care subsidy program, also known as child care vouchers, helps DC families with low and moderate incomes pay for the cost of child care and access high-quality early education and care in the District. If your child is eligible for child care subsidy, the subsidy program will pay all or part of your child care costs directly to the child care provider. You may be required to pay a portion of the cost, based on your household income.

Where can I use a child care voucher?
Families can use child care subsidies to pay for care at a licensed child development facility that accepts vouchers. Families can find a list of child development facilities that accept vouchers using or by contacting DC Child Care Connections at (202) 829-2500 or [email protected].

In some circumstances, families may also use vouchers to pay for child care provided by licensed-exempt in-home care providers. An in-home care provider is a provider selected by the parent or guardian to care for the child in the child’s home. In order to utilize an in-home care provider, a parent/guardian must demonstrate that they could not find care at a licensed child development center or child development home that meets their schedule needs or the needs of their child.

In-home care providers must enter into agreement with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to participate in the child care subsidy program after the family has been determined eligible to receive subsidized child care service.

Who is eligible to receive a child care voucher?
Eligibility for child care subsidy is based on an assessment of need, income and family size. Most families qualify for child care subsidies by meeting income eligibility requirements and demonstrating a need for child care while the child’s parent(s) or primary caregiver(s) are at work or in school. In addition to income-eligible working families, child care assistance is also available for:

  • Families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits and participate in education and training in accordance with their Individual Responsibility Plans;
  • Teen parents seeking a high school degree or its equivalent; and/or
  • Families not receiving TANF, but who are pursuing additional education to improve employment opportunities and prospects;
  • Participants in Food Stamp Employment Training Program;
  • Children in foster care or protective services;
  • Children with special needs;
  • Children of adult with disabilities;
  • Children of recipients of vocational rehabilitation services;
  • Children experiencing homelessness;
  • TANF payee.

What is the maximum income allowed for subsidy benefits?
Families with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or $90,000 for a family of four in 2023, may be eligible to receive child care subsidies. Once a family qualifies for a subsidy, they can maintain the subsidy even if their income increases—up to 85 percent of DC Median Income, or $129,000 for a family of four in 2023.

On Oct. 1, 2023, OSSE increased the income eligibility cutoff for DC families to qualify for subsidies from 250 to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, expanding the number of children and families eligible for child care subsidies. The new sliding fee scale is available here.

The exact income level at which a family qualifies for subsidies depends on family size, the number of children in care and amount of income. In addition to income, families must meet other requirements to receive a voucher. Please contact the DHS or an authorized Level II child care provider to determine your specific eligibility category.

Where and how do I apply to receive a child care voucher?
There are four ways to apply for the DC child care subsidy program.

  1. Online: Click this link to submit an application. After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification from the Department of Human Services (DHS) acknowledging receipt and connecting you to an eligibility worker. You must schedule an interview with your eligibility worker to complete the application process. During the phone interview, the eligibility worker will ask questions to gain a better understanding of all relevant eligibility factors for your family.
  2. In person at Department of Human Services (DHS): Visit the DHS, Economic Security Administration, Child Care Services Division located at 4049 South Capital St. SW, Washington, DC 20032. Applicants are encouraged to call DHS at (202) 727-0284 to schedule an appointment. Limited walk-in visits are available for new applicants on a first come, first serve basis on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 8:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m. You are encouraged to print and complete the child care subsidy application found here in advance of your visit. Free printing services are available at DC Public Libraries with a library card.
  3. In person at a Level II child care provider facility: Visit a facility that is authorized to complete the child care subsidy intake process. A list of Level II facilities is available here. You are encouraged to print and complete the child care subsidy application found here in advance of your visit. Free printing services are available at DC Public Libraries with a library card.
  4. In person at Virginia Williams Family Resource Center: Families experiencing homelessness may visit the resource center located at 920-A Rhode Island Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20018 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:15 a.m.- 4:45 p.m.

If I work nights and/or weekends, can I apply for subsidized child care?
Yes, some child care providers participating in the child care subsidy program offer services on evenings, nights and weekends. If your family needs non-traditional child care services, you must apply at DHS and provide your activity schedule as part of your application.

Where can I direct questions or get support to complete the application?
Support is available to families who have questions or need assistance completing the application. Families may visit DHS or a Level II child care provider in person for support or contact DC Child Care Connections at (202) 829-2500 or [email protected].

What documents do I need to provide as part of the application for subsidized child care?
You must provide at least ONE document from each type of verification category.

Verification Category

Verification Documents

Identity of Applicant

  • District of Columbia Driver's License
  • Valid Government ID
  • US Passport

Verification of Citizenship and Legal Status

  • Legal Permanent Resident Card
  • Unexpired I-94 or other immigrant registration card
  • Unexpired Visa

Verification of Countable Income

  • Two consecutively dated pay statements; the last statement must be dated within 30 days of your intake and show your name, date of pay and income before deductions
  • Statement from your employer dated within 30 days if newly employed or if your pay statements are downloaded or do not contain all needed information
  • Self-employed persons must supply the same documents maintained for income and tax purposes, including but not limited to:
    • Valid DC business license
    • Daily log record (manifest) of an operator of a public vehicle- for-hire for a minimum of four weeks
  • Barber and cosmetology license, records of booth rental and equipment lease or appointment schedules and daily sales records with recent dates
  • Street vendor’s license, record of supply purchases and daily sales, and rental equipment receipts with recent dates

Verification of Other Countable Income

  • Other income of parent(s) or guardian(s) such as Social Security and Veterans Benefits
  • Unemployment or workers compensation
  • Income of children receiving subsidized care such as child support or Social Security Income
  • Alimony payments

Need for Child Care

  • Work, training and/or school schedule for the child's parent(s) or guardian(s) living in the home. Proof of child or applicant’s disability. If schedules vary, the documentation should reflect this.

Verification of Relationship Between Applicant and Child Receiving Benefits

  • Documentation to verify child to natural parent, court-appointed guardian, document of payment from TANF, or the Department of Corrections or another penal system assigning temporary custody of a child
  • Birth Certificate - Includes name of parent applying for services
  • Hospital Record of Birth - For infants younger than 6 months, an official certificate must be supplied within 30 days
  • Referral from an authorized DC government agency or its vendor

Verification of Residency

  • Official rent receipt - on company form or letterhead
  • Evidence of home ownership - current mortgage payment
  • Lease or housing subsidy document
  • Utility bill - PEPCO, gas, water, home phone (cell phone or cable bills alone are not acceptable)
  • E-bills for utilities showing applicant name and current address along with two pieces of current mail
  • Notarized statement plus two pieces of mail
  • Referral from a DC government agency
  • Documentation no more than 30 days old of active TANF, food stamp or Medicaid benefits received by the applicant

Do I have to give the income from the other parent?
If you have a two-parent household, you are required to submit income information from both parents. If the other parent is absent from the household, but their whereabouts are known, the other parent must provide a notice of their contribution to the family. If the whereabouts of the other parent are unknown, their income information is not required.

How long will it take to find out if my child care subsidy benefits are approved?
The earliest date child care subsidy benefits can be approved is the date that you complete the interview and provide all needed verification, which includes the name of the child care provider you would like your child to attend.

Can I enroll my children at different providers?
Yes. If you select multiple sites for your children, you must complete the intake process in person at DHS.

Will there be any cost for child care services if I receive a subsidy?
You will be required to pay co-payments directly to the child care provider where your child is enrolled. The co-payments apply to the two oldest children receiving child care. You will be informed of the cost of your co-payment once you’ve been approved for services.

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