EEC Management Bulletin: EMB FY 2010 - 01

For Use By: Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs), EEC Contracted Providers and Head Start Programs
Supersedes:

"Access Limitations to EEC Child Care Financial Assistance: Additional Guidance," issued December 11, 2008; the "Access Limitations for Income Eligible Child Care," issued October 24, 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: August 17, 2009
Effective Date: September 1, 2009

Synopsis: Clarifies and revises policies effective November 3, 2008 regarding access to EEC financial assistance. For more information, email bulletinquestions@massmail.state.ma.us.

Introduction

The purpose of this Bulletin is to clarify and revise current access to EEC child care financial assistance for eligible families. In addition to the categories closed effective November 3, 2008, please note additional access limitations in this Bulletin. Immediate access to financial assistance remains available 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.

Access for Income Eligible Families

The income eligible account is determined by the Massachusetts General Court and Governor each fiscal year through the state budget. This account is not an entitlement account, and therefore is limited in funding given the Commonwealth's fiscal situation. The income eligible budget funds child care financial assistance to prioritized low income families who meet EEC eligibility requirements. Income eligible financial assistance may also be used to provide continuity of care for families whose child care is no longer supported by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) or the Department of Children and Families (DCF) accounts.

Immediate access to EEC income eligible financial assistance has been strictly limited since November 3, 2008, except for teen parent families (under the age of 20) who meet EEC eligibility criteria. Effective October 1, 2009, access to vouchers and the flex pool for teen parent families (4I and 4P) is closed. However, contracted providers with teen parent contract slots may enroll children of teen families up to their maximum obligation.

EEC will continue to support continuity for the following families already receiving financial assistance through a contract who continue to meet EEC eligibility criteria:

  • Child in teen parent child care whose parent ages out (turns 20);
  • Child in nontraditional child care (NTCC) whose family changes activity hours and no longer needs evening and/or weekend care;
  • Child in homeless child care whose family finds housing; and/or
  • Child in income eligible child care who ages up in the program*.

*EEC providers are expected to support children aging up through management of their contracted slots. Aging up in the program is contingent on the availability of funds and contracted slots, and must have prior approval of EEC. Income-eligible Center-Based Contracted providers (excluding Family Child Care) must complete and submit a report to EEC for approval to provide continuity for children aging up to toddler, preschool, or school age care. See 8.17.09 EEC memo to Income Eligible Center-Based Contracted Providers for more details on these data reporting requirements for aging up. EEC will issue further guidance at a later date on backfilling income-eligible contracted slots.

EEC will not approve any requests from Income Eligible Center-Based contracted providers to age up children if the provider has not submitted the required data report on time. The first data report (on preschool children moving up to school age) is due by close of business on Monday, August 24, 2009.

Access for DTA Families

DTA funding is available to support families in achieving self-sufficiency. Immediate access to financial assistance remains available to new families referred by DTA as is federally mandated. Therefore, access is open through vouchers to:

  • DTA families participating in an ESP program;
  • DTA families in transition (2A or 2B);
  • Post-transitional families (3A); and
  • Homeless families referred to shelter by DTA in an ESP activity (1H).

Access to homeless families that are not participating in an ESP (3H) is closed effective September 1, 2009.

Continuity for DTA post-transitional families (3D) who have been receiving financial assistance for 12 months and continue to meet EEC eligibility criteria is open through income eligible vouchers.

Access for DCF Families

DCF funding is available for families with an open case of child abuse or neglect. Immediate access to financial assistance remains available through contracts and expansion to new families referred from DCF as is state mandated through the budget line item language.

Continuity for a child in a supportive contract whose DCF case closes and their family meets EEC eligibility criteria is also open through income eligible vouchers, contracts and the flex pool.

Enrolling New Children from the Waitlist

When EEC contract providers have open contract slots and no children enrolled through the flex pool they may enroll children from the waitlist on a first come first served basis by priority. If there are no priority children on the waitlist in their area they may enroll general priority families on a first come first served basis from the waitlist.

Summary

EEC contracted providers are expected to support continuity of care for families through management of their contract slots. In Fiscal Year 2010, EEC will implement policies to manage continuity for as many families as possible given the income eligible budget.

All categories closed according to policies effective November 3, 2008 remain closed. Effective September 1, 2009, the following continuity of care category is also closed:

  • Children of homeless families that are not participating in an ESP (3H)

Access to vouchers and flex pool for new income eligible teen families (without a referral from DTA or DCF) is closed effective October 1, 2009.

EEC recognizes the hardship families may experience due to these policies, and will continue to carefully monitor caseload data across all accounts to ensure that access to EEC financial assistance, if possible, is restored.


Information provided by the Department of Early Education and Care. Created: August 17, 2009.