EEC Management Bulletin: EMB FY 2008 - 03

For Use By: Community Partnerships for Children Programs (CPC), Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Agencies, EEC Contracted Providers, and Head Start Programs
Supersedes:

"Access Limitations to for Income Eligible Child Care," issued October 24, 2008; "Access Limitations to Child Care Financial Assistance - Additional Guidance," issued November 3, 2008; and to the extent that the policies contained in this document conflict with EEC Financial Assistance Policy Guide, the policies contained in this document govern.

Date Issued: December 11, 2008
Effective Date: November 3, 2008

Synopsis: Clarifies policies effective 11/3/08 regarding access limitations to EEC financial assistance. For more information, email bulletinquestions@massmail.state.ma.us

Introduction

The purpose of this Bulletin is to provide additional information regarding the access limitations to EEC child care financial assistance which took effect November 3, 2008. Please review this information carefully as some of the policies contained in previous emails and memos have been clarified.

As you know, EEC has experienced increased pressure in our Income Eligible account, which provides financial assistance in the form of vouchers, contracts and grants to approximately 31,000 children enrolled in early education and care and after-school programs across the state. To manage the projected deficiency in Fiscal Year 2009, EEC began to significantly limit access to child care financial assistance through the Income Eligible account on November 3, 2008. Please note that, at this time, EEC intends to maintain access for families currently receiving EEC financial assistance while reducing enrollment through attrition. Access for new families is limited; new enrollment through contracts and the flexpool must remain revenue neutral.

EEC is continuing to provide immediate access to financial assistance to new families referred by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) as is federally mandated, and from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) as is state mandated. We will continue to carefully monitor caseload data across all our accounts to ensure that the projected deficiency is remedied and that access, if possible, is restored.

Accordingly, effective Monday, November 3, 2008, the following policies and procedures took effect:

1.0 Vouchers

To determine which families have immediate access to vouchers as well as families to be placed on the waiting list, please see attached updated Matrix, Child Priority Status Codes: Access Status Effective 11/3/08 pdf format of Child Priority Status Codes Matrix (effective... .

Determination of Eligibility for EEC Financial Assistance: All families (except those coded as 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1S, 2A, 4A and 9S) must follow current EEC Income Eligibility policies and procedures, including income eligibility and activity requirements, copayments, and reassessment requirements.

1.1 Reassessments for CCR&Rs

In order to avoid any loss of care, CCR&Rs should ensure that families are reminded in a timely manner about voucher end dates and are reassessed prior to the voucher end date. In addition, CCR&Rs should clearly notify families that the failure to complete the reassessment process prior to the voucher end date will result in loss of care.

Notification of Reassessment:

Parents/Guardians must be notified in writing 45 days prior to reassessment in order to provide both the family and the intake agent sufficient time to schedule an appointment, if necessary, or for the family to mail or fax the required documentation to demonstrate their continued eligibility for EEC financial assistance. CCR&Rs should use the Reassessment Letter provided through CCIMS for this notification.

We strongly recommend that CCR&Rs require that families schedule reassessment appointments at least two (2) weeks prior to the voucher end date to allow sufficient time to complete the reassessment process.

Notification of Termination:

If a parent/guardian does not appropriately respond to the 45 day notice of reassessment (for example, s/he provided incomplete documentation or failed to make or keep an appointment), at least two (2) weeks prior to the voucher end date, the CCR&R must clearly notify the parent/guardian that the voucher will terminate on the voucher end date unless s/he completes the reassessment process prior to the voucher end date. CCR&Rs should use the "Termination of Voucher Child Care" form in CCIMS, and specify on the form the reason for termination (for example, failure to reassess on time, failure to provide adequate documentation, failure to make or keep an appointment).

If a family calls to schedule a reassessment appointment prior to the voucher end date and the CCR&R is not able to schedule a reassessment appointment prior to the voucher end date, the CCR&R may issue a temporary two (2) week authorization beyond the voucher end date to allow the family time to complete the reassessment process. In issuing the temporary two week voucher authorization, the CCR&R must make it clear to the parent/guardian that there will be no further extensions, and the CCR&R should exercise due diligence to help ensure that a reassessment appointment is scheduled and the process is completed within that final two week timeframe.

1.2 Voucher Access for Homeless Families

Homeless Families referred to shelter by Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) (ESP activity): Families referred by DTA to shelters and who are participating in an Employment Services Program (ESP) activity (i.e. Beacon referral) shall receive immediate access and be coded as 1H, for the period of time based on the activity.

Homeless Families referred to shelter by DTA (no ESP activity): Families referred by DTA to shelters but are not participating in an ESP activity (i.e., families receiving Emergency Assistance (EA) or TAFDC only) shall receive a 3-month voucher and be coded as 3H.

At the end of 3 months, families shall be reassessed and their eligibility will fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Families participating in ESP activity (i.e. Beacon referral) should continue to receive EEC financial assistance for child care and be coded as 1H;
  • Families not participating in ESP activity, but who meet EEC income eligibility guidelines (income requirement and activity requirement) should continue to receive EEC financial assistance for child care and can remain coded as 3H; and
  • Families not participating in ESP activity and who do not meet EEC income eligibility guidelines (income requirement and activity requirement) will no longer receive EEC financial assistance for child care.

Homeless Families Leaving Shelter:

Within 30 days of a family leaving shelter, all families (whether they received a voucher or were placed in homeless contracted slot) shall be reassessed, and:

  • Families participating in ESP activity (i.e. Beacon referral) should continue to receive EEC financial assistance for child care and be coded using the appropriate activity code (1A, 1B, etc.);
  • Families not participating in ESP activity, but who meet EEC income eligibility guidelines (income requirement and activity requirement) should continue to receive EEC financial assistance for child care and be coded using the appropriate activity code (3B, 3C, 6A, 6B, etc.); and
  • Families not participating in ESP activity and who do not meet EEC income eligibility guidelines (income requirement and activity requirement) will no longer receive EEC financial assistance for child care.

2.0 EEC Contracted Providers

Consistent with existing billing policies and procedures, contracted providers may continue to fill a vacant slot, up to the contracted provider's maximum number of awarded contracted slots, using existing waiting list policies and procedures.

"Continuity of Care: Child Aging Out":

In order to provide continuity of care for a child aging out of a program type, contracted providers may use the flex pool if a regular contracted slot is not available. Providers may not fill the slot vacated by the child who "aged out" until: (1) the child who aged out moves out of the flex pool, or (2) a different child with the appropriate program type is moved from the flex pool to the vacant slot.

Flexibility within Income Eligible Contracts - Effective January 1, 2009:

Effective January 1, 2009, contract slot utilization is based on your total # of contracted slots. Contracted providers may fill their contracted slots with any age child, regardless of program type, as long as the following conditions are met:

  1. the program type is within the contracted provider's approved contract award;
  2. the contracted provider does not exceed the total maximum number of slots in their contract; and
  3. the contracted provider has the licensed capacity to enroll the child.

For example, a contract with 6 pre-school and 8 school-age (12 total) may have actual placements of 8 pre-school and 4 school-age (12 total).

Contracted providers will continue to get reimbursed at the rate appropriate to the age of the child.

Infant/Toddler Slots:

We recognize that there is an increasing demand for a limited number of infant/toddler slots across the state. In order to secure current capacity of infant/toddler slots, infant, infant and toddler, and toddler slots are excluded from the flexibility policy described above.

2.1 Flex Pool Availability

The flex pool is available to ensure continuity of care for children in the following circumstances:

  • A child in Supportive Child Care (including foster children placed in supportive child care due to needs of child) whose case has closed and the family meets EEC income eligibility and activity requirements.
  • A child who is aging out of one program type and is aging into a program type that is full under the provider's contract. Please refer to section 2.0, "Continuity of Care: Child Aging Out" above, for further instructions.
  • A child of a homeless family currently receiving EEC financial assistance via homeless contracted slot finds housing and meets EEC income eligibility and activity requirements.
  • A child currently receiving EEC financial assistance through a Teen Parent Child Care Contract (TPCC) whose parent ages out of this program (turns age 20).
  • A child currently enrolled in a Non-Traditional Hours Child Care contract (NTCC) whose family changes activity hours, and thus no longer needs evening and/or weekend care.

All other children/families should be placed on the waiting list with the appropriate priority code.

2.2 Families referred by DCF

Contracted providers may continue to enroll/place families referred by DCF in supportive child care contracts, supportive expansion slots, and/or supportive vouchers. At this time, new Foster Families seeking income eligible vouchers based on work/training needs will be placed on the Waiting List. Continuity of care will be provided to a child currently receiving supportive child care as a result of a DCF referral, whose case is closed by DCF and whose family meets EEC income eligibility and activity requirements. Continuity of care will also be provided to a child currently receiving a voucher due to their Foster Family work/training need, whose case is closed by DCF and whose family meets EEC income eligibility and activity requirements.

2.3 Transportation

Contracted providers with transportation included in their contract may continue to provide transportation for existing or new children.

2.4 Reassessments for Contracted Providers

In order to avoid any loss of care, contracted providers should ensure that families are reminded in a timely manner about the end date of their eligibility period and are reassessed prior to that end date. In addition, contracted providers should clearly notify families that the failure to complete the reassessment process prior to the end date of their eligibility period will result in loss of care.

Notification of Reassessment:

Parents/Guardians must be notified in writing 45 days prior to reassessment in order to provide both the family and the intake agent sufficient time to schedule an appointment, if necessary, or for the family to mail or fax the required documentation to demonstrate their continued eligibility for EEC financial assistance.

We strongly recommend that contracted providers require that families schedule reassessment appointments at least two (2) weeks prior to the end date of their eligibility period to allow sufficient time to complete the reassessment process.

Notification of Termination:

If a parent/guardian does not appropriately respond to the 45 day notice of reassessment (for example, s/he provided incomplete documentation or failed to make or keep an appointment), at least two (2) weeks prior to the end of the eligibility period, the contracted provider must clearly notify the parent/guardian that her/his child care financial assistance will terminate on the date the eligibility period ends unless s/he completes the reassessment process prior to end date of the eligibility period. Contracted providers should use the "Termination of Child Care" form provided by EEC, and specify on the form the reason for termination (for example, failure to reassess on time, failure to provide adequate documentation, failure to make or keep an appointment).

If a family calls to schedule a reassessment appointment prior to the end date of the eligibility period and the contracted provider is not able to schedule a reassessment appointment prior to end date of the eligibility period, the contracted provider may issue a temporary two (2) week eligibility (not to exceed two weeks from placement end date) to allow the family time to complete the reassessment process. In issuing the temporary two week eligibility, the contracted provider must make it clear to the parent/guardian that there will be no further extensions, and the contracted provider should exercise due diligence to help ensure that a reassessment appointment is scheduled and the process is completed within that final two week timeframe.

3.0 EEC Community Partnerships for Children (CPCs)

CPCs may not enroll any new families after November 3, 2008. New families should be placed on the waiting list with the appropriate priority code so that they may be served on a first-come-first-served basis when, and if, funding becomes available.

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Exceptions or family circumstances that do not fall into the above categories and other questions should be directed to the Bulletin Questions mailbox at bulletinquestions@massmail.state.ma.us.




Information provided by the Department of Early Education and Care . Created: December 11, 2008.