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We get a lot of questions about qualifying for child care assistance and the process involved in receiving it, so we’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions here for easy reference. Currently enrolled families can also download the Parent Handbook here (Spanish: Manual de Padres). If you have any further questions, please contact our Resource and Referral Specialists for more help! 

 

General Questions

Can Pathways LA assist with my child care needs?

Pathways LA is one of 10 sister agencies in LA County. Your family’s designated agency is determined by the zip code where child care is taking place or will take place. If child care is taking place outside of the Pathways LA service area, we will refer you to the appropriate agency. Pathways LA services the following zip codes:

90004     90010     90014     90020     90027     90036     90041     90048     90068     90210
90005     90012 90017 90021 90028 90038 90042 90057 90069 90211
90006 90013 90019 90026 90029 90039 90046 90065 90071 90212

 

What programs does Pathways LA offer to help pay for child care?

Pathways LA Child Care Payment and Assistance Programs serve eligible families by providing subsidies and services for children from birth through age 13 (up to age 21 for children with exceptional needs), funding permitting. These programs, which are designed to support low-income parents with child care, include CalWORKs Stage 1 and the California Department of Education programs: Stage 2, Stage 3, Alternative Payment, and Berendo Program. To determine which program can assist you in paying for child care services, please contact our Resource and Referral department or use our online Eligibility Tool

 

Can Pathways LA help me find a child care provider?

Pathways LA maintains a database of licensed child care providers, including child care centers and family child care homes that offer care in our service area. Additionally, we have information on legally license-exempt child care centers. This service is free and available to anyone living or seeking child care in the Pathways LA service area, regardless of income.

While we provide parents with education and resources on best practices for selecting a child care provider, Pathways LA cannot make recommendations—the selection of a provider is the parent’s right and sole responsibility. 

For more information, or to obtain child care referrals, please contact our Resource & Referral Department at (213) 427-2710.

 

Will Pathways LA reimburse all of my child care costs?

Each family’s child care hours will be approved based on documented need for care. Pathways LA provides subsidized child care up to the maximum cost reimbursement allowed by the State of California. Additionally, Pathways LA may reimburse providers for child care registration, materials and/or insurance cost. Families are responsible for paying a Family Fee.

 

What is a Family Fee?

A Family Fee is the amount a participant must pay toward child care costs based on income, family size and the fee schedule established by the State. Families with a certified need of less than 130 hours per month will be assessed a part-time fee while families with a certified need of 130 hours or more per month will be assessed a full-time fee. The Family Fee is distinct from the Co-Payment.

 

What is a Co-Payment?

Pathways LA reimburses child care providers based on their published rates, up to a maximum established by the State of California – this is referred to as the Regional Market Rate Ceiling (RMR). If a family selects a provider whose rates are higher than the current RMR, the family is responsible for paying the additional costs directly to the provider as a “Co-Payment.” The Co-Payment is distinct from the Family Fee. Parents and providers will be notified of the provider’s established rates and RMR payment limitations at the time child care services are authorized by Pathways LA.

 

What qualifies as a public charge? 

A “public charge” is a person who is dependent on the government for support. Benefits that can result in someone being considered a public charge include:

  • Federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance
  • SNAP (food stamps)
  • Section 8 housing assistance
  • Public housing
  • Medicaid (except for emergency services, pregnancy + 60 days, and under age 21)

Programs that do not count towards public charge consideration include: 

  • Child care assistance
  • CHIP
  • School lunches
  • Food banks
  • Shelters
  • WIC
  • State and locally funded health care

For more information regarding public charge qualifications, click here

 

Stage 1 Questions

What are the eligibility requirements for Stage 1 Child Care?

If you currently receive CalWORKs cash aid, participate (or intend to participate) in any Welfare-to-Work activity or employment, or are a CalWORKs-sanctioned participant, and you have at least one eligible child, you are eligible for Stage 1 Child Care. For two-parent households, both parents need to be unable to provide care for their children in order to be eligible. Please contact the Stage 1 department for additional information.

 

What is the difference between Stage 1 approved child care and Stage 1 authorized/secured child care?

Once a parent has been determined eligible by a CalWORKs worker, GAIN worker, or Pathways LA specialist, they are considered “approved” for Stage 1 child care. The parent is then responsible for locating a provider and submitting required documents to Pathways LA. Once Pathways LA has determined that the requested provider is eligible, parents will be notified that they are “authorized” to use that provider for their child care needs, and Pathways LA will be able to reimburse the provider for their services. The authorization of child care indicates that the parent has “secured” child care for their needs. 

 

How am I notified that child care has been authorized?

Once a parent has been determined eligible by a CalWORKs, Cal-Learn, or GAIN worker, or Pathways LA specialist will mail out authorization notices to both the parent and the provider within four business days of the successful submission of all required documents. The notices will include the parent and provider information along with the children authorized for child care, dates the care has been approved as well as the scheduled care that has been approved. 

 

What is the difference between a Set Schedule and a Weekly Schedule?

  • Set Schedule: A Set Schedule is a fixed work schedule where the days and hours remain constant. For example, a parent who works Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm works a Set Schedule. When a family is approved on a Set Schedule, the provider can designate a spot for a child with confidence. A Set Schedule makes the provider eligible for reimbursement when the child is absent and when the facility observes its approved non-service days.
  • Weekly Schedule: A Weekly Schedule allows parents whose work hours vary to secure child care. Families approved on a Weekly Schedule are allotted a maximum number of hours that they can utilize for child care at any time during the authorization period. Child care services for Weekly Schedules will be reimbursed based on actual hours of care as reflected on the Provider Payment Request form submitted by the provider. Families on Weekly Schedules are not eligible for reimbursement on days care does not take place, including established provider holidays or when the child is absent from care.

 

What changes am I required to report to my Stage 1 Specialist?

Once Stage 1 Child Care has been authorized, the parent is responsible to report the following changes:

  1. If the parent needs to decrease their authorized hours from full time to part time.
  2. If the parent or provider changes any contact information such as address, phone number or email address.
  3. If the parent would like to change providers.
  4. If the parent would like to terminate child care services.

 

California Department of Education (CDE) Questions: 

What are the eligibility requirements for CDE Child Care?

To enroll in a CDE Child Care program through Pathways LA, each adult in the household must verify a “need.” A need is defined as one or a combination of employment, vocational training, seeking employment, incapacity or homelessness. A family’s authorized service level and approved child care service hours are determined by the verified need.

 

What are the CDE Child Care programs?

Programs offered through the California Department of Education are:

  • CalWORKs Child Care Program (Stage 2 and Stage 3)
  • CalWORKs Child Care is a program for current and former recipients of CalWORKs cash aid who are working, participating in a county-approved Welfare-to-Work activity, looking for work, seeking housing, and/or in a job training or educational program. CalWORKs Child Care is designed to help families receiving public assistance pay for the full or a portion of the cost of child care while the participating parent(s) works to comply and/or complete the program requirements.
  • Alternative Payment Program: The Alternative Payment (AP) program provides child care payment assistance to eligible families who need child care services because they are working, looking for work, seeking housing, and/or in a job training or educational program. The AP program may pay for all or a part of the child care services, depending on the family’s certifiable need. This program is open to parents who do not currently receive, have not in the past received, or are not eligible to receive CalWORKs cash aid.
  • Berendo Program: The Family Child Care Home Education Network (FCCHEN) program, known as the Berendo Program at Pathways LA, offers affordable child care to eligible parents with children under 5 years of age who select a child care provider from a list of participating licensed family child care homes (FCCH). The goal of the Berendo Program is to support parents and providers in creating the best experience possible for the children in their care.

 

What are my child care provider options under the CDE programs?

There are four types of child care providers that are eligible to participate in our programs. Providers must be willing to comply with Pathways LA rules and regulations and enter into a binding Service Agreement. Below are descriptions of the provider types available to program participants.

  • Licensed Child Care Centers: Child Care Centers are licensed and overseen by the California Community Care Licensing Board (CCL). Centers offer physical, social, developmental and educational activities for groups of children of different ages. State regulations specify staff size, educational requirements, and health and safety standards. All staff must be certified free of any serious criminal history. These centers may be operated by public or private agencies, including churches.
  • Licensed Family Child Care Homes: Family Child Care Homes (FCCH) are licensed and overseen by the CCL. They are operated in private homes and are subject to inspection. There are two license types in this provider category: Small and Large. Small FCCH may care for up to eight children. Large FCCH are required to employ a full-time assistant and may care for up to 14 children. State regulations specify health and safety standards for both the provider and the provider’s home. The provider and all persons age 18 and older in the home must be certified free of any serious criminal history.
  • Before and After School Programs/License-Exempt Facilities: These programs provide child care services before and/or after school or when school is not in session (e.g. summer and winter camps). These may include municipal park and recreational centers and programs on school sites. These sites are not overseen by the CCL.
  • Family, Friends & Neighbors (License-Exempt Child Care): License-exempt providers are providers without a license from the CCL. These providers may be adult relatives, friends, neighbors or babysitters who, in their own home, care for the children of only one family. There are no state health and safety regulations for this type of provider. There are two types of licensed-exempt care: License-Exempt Relative and Licensed-Exempt Non-Relative, each with specific requirements.
  • Licensed-Exempt Relative: Eligible License-Exempt Relatives are the grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle of the child by blood or by marriage. A licensed-exempt relative must provide proof of the relationship by submitting documentation for verification, such as a birth certificate or marriage license.
  • Licensed-Exempt Non-Relative (TrustLine Providers): Eligible License-Exempt Non-Relatives are adults who care for an unrelated child. The State of California does not consider siblings, great grandparents, great aunts/uncles or cousins as relatives for this purpose. These providers must register as TrustLine providers and may only provide child care services for one family. If a provider’s TrustLine registration is ever denied, closed or revoked, they will not be eligible for reimbursement, and their Service Agreement with Pathways LA will be terminated.

 

How am I notified that my child care case is approved?

A Notice of Action indicating the approved child care hours will be sent to you and your child care provider upon the initial enrollment. It is important that you read the “comments” on the notice for the exact approved child care hours. If you use hours that are outside the approved hours, Pathways LA does not assume responsibility for reimbursement of those hours.

 

What is the difference between a Set Schedule and a Variable Schedule?

  • Set Schedule: A Set Schedule is a fixed work schedule where the days and hours remain constant. For example, a parent who works Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm works a Set Schedule. When a family is approved on a Set Schedule, the provider can designate a spot for a child with confidence. A Set Schedule makes the provider eligible for reimbursement when the child is absent and when the facility observes its approved non-service days.
  • Variable Schedule: A Variable Schedule is a fluctuating work schedule. The days and hours worked may change from week to week. For example, a parent who works Monday from 9am to 3pm, Tuesday from 2pm to 11pm, and Friday from 10am to 4pm one week, and a different schedule the following week works a Variable Schedule. Because of the unpredictable nature of the schedule, the family’s child care service level will be limited to a maximum range of hours and days per week.

Child care services for Variable Schedules will be reimbursed based on actual hours of care as reflected on the attendance record submitted by the provider. Families on Variable Schedules are not eligible for reimbursement on days care does not take place, including established provider holidays.

 

Am I required to report changes after my case is certified?

Once a family establishes eligibility and need at the initial certification or recertification, the family is considered to meet all eligibility and need requirements for no less than 12 months, and has the right to maintain their approved level of service regardless of a change in the family’s circumstances. The only exception is if there is an income increase that causes the family income to exceed 85% of the State Median Income (SMI), in which case the family must report the change immediately. 

Families may voluntarily report changes that would result in an increase or decrease in their child care service level at any time using the Family Request for Changes to Services Form. To initiate these changes, requests must be made in writing and include: 1) the days and hours of the requested change; 2) the effective date of the requested change; and, 3) documentation supporting the requested change. Changes will be processed within 10 business days from the date documentation is received by Pathways LA. Retroactive changes cannot be made. 

 

If I disagree with a case action, what can I do?

Parents who disagree with a Notice of Action (NOA) can request an appeal by submitting a written request to Pathways LA within 19 calendar days of the date on the NOA. During a Local Appeal hearing, the parent may speak for themselves or may be represented by a representative of their choice (e.g. a friend or attorney) for whom the parent has submitted an Authorization for Release of Information form. If necessary, Pathways LA will make an interpreter accessible to the parent. A Pathways LA representative will be present to explain the agency’s reason for the action indicated on the NOA. The parent will be given the opportunity to comply with any required documents to reverse the decision. Pathways LA will mail a decision letter to the parent with the result of the Local Appeal within 10 calendar days of the hearing.

 

 

Program Forms

CDE Schedule of Income Ceilings (Spanish: CDE Horario de los Techos de Ingreso

Student Training Packet (Spanish: Paquete de Entrenamiento de Estudiante)

Employment Packet (Spanish: Información de Empleo)

Family Information (Spanish: Información de Familia)

Seeking Employment Policies (Spanish: Pólizas Sobre Búsqueda de Empleo)

Self-Employment Policies (Spanish: Declaración Sobre Mi Empleo por Cuenta Propia) 

Family Request for Changes to Services (Spanish: Solicitud Familiar de Cambios a mi Nivel de Servicio)

 

Please find the form that best addresses your needs – if you’re unsure, give us a call at (213) 427-2700 and we’ll help!