Today, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced that more DC families are now eligible to receive child care subsidies to pay for child care and encouraged families to apply for child care subsidies using a new online application. The online application offers convenience and accessibility to the thousands of District families who apply for child care subsidies each year.
“We want any family who may be eligible for support paying for child care to be able to access the subsidy program. The online subsidy application makes it easier and more convenient for DC families to enroll and find child care that meets their needs,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. “Expanding access to high-quality child care and removing cost barriers is good for our littlest learners and good for DC families.”
As of Oct. 1, the income eligibility threshold for DC families has expanded to 300 percent of the federal poverty level; up from 250 percent previously. A change Mayor Bowser announced back in March as part of her fiscal year 2024 budget. A family of four making $90,000 or less can now qualify to receive child care subsidies. The expansion of the income eligibility threshold means approximately 5,200 additional children from birth through age 13, including 2,200 children from birth through age 6, are now newly income-eligible to receive child care subsidies. In fiscal year 2022, nearly 7,400 children from more than 5,600 families benefitted from child care subsidies.
To receive a child care subsidy, a family must complete and submit an application that is used to determine a family’s eligibility based on factors including need, income and family size. The new online application allows families to complete the entire enrollment process online using a computer or mobile device and is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, French and Amharic. The online application eliminates the need to make an in-person visit to the Department of Human Services (DHS) or a provider qualified to conduct subsidy intake and eligibility determinations, although families who prefer to apply in person may still visit those locations
“We know that when families have access to high-quality child care they are better positioned to reach their full potential towards sustainable economic security,” said Syrita Robinson, Vice President of the Office of Early Learning at United Planning Organization (UPO). “Every year, UPO has the privilege to serve hundreds of families receiving child care subsidies across our 14 early learning facilities. These new investments from Mayor Bowser and OSSE mean UPO can support even more children and their families to grow, progress and thrive!”
In addition to supports for families, the District has increased reimbursement rates for child care providers who care for children enrolled in the subsidy program. The new rates reflect OSSE’s most recent child care cost modeling analysis and support subsidy providers to cover increased operating costs during the pandemic recovery and to offer high-quality programs that meet the needs of our youngest learners in the District.
“Participating in the child care subsidy program helps Barbara Chambers provide education and care to children and families who often times are the most in need of support,” said Maribel Ventura-Torres, Executive Director of the Barbara Chambers Children’s Center. “The increased reimbursements from the District for our services will help Barbara Chambers to better support families and sustain and grow operations in our community.”
The child care subsidy expansion and online application launch are part of the District’s efforts to be a national leader in providing access to high-quality early care and education and supporting early childhood educators.
In fiscal year 2023, the District supported child care facilities to strengthen and expand their operations through programs like the Access to Quality Child Care Grant, Back-to-Work Child Care Grant and DC Child Care Stabilization Grants, which combined to infuse more than $70 million into the sector. In fiscal year 2022, OSSE launched the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund, a first in the nation program aimed at achieving pay parity between early educators and their K-12 counterparts. Since first payments were distributed in September 2022, more than $80 million has been distributed to more than 4,000 early childhood educators.
To learn more about the child care subsidy program and other early childhood education work in the District, visit the OSSE website.