Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
WHAT IS ACCESS?
ACCESS stands for “Assistance with Child Care Eligibility and Support Services.” To apply for a child care subsidy/voucher through 4C’s Alternative Payment Program, families must submit the ACCESS application. All ACCESS applications are reviewed for eligibility to determine the need for state and federally subsidized child care.
WHAT IS SUBSIDIZED CHILD CARE & WHAT TYPE OF VOUCHER DOES 4Cs OFFER?
A subsidy (or “voucher") provides financial assistance to income-eligible families who are unable to care for their children due to work, school, job search, being incapacitated, homeless, or having an open Child Protective Services (CPS) case. Families enrolled in the Alternative Payment Program at 4Cs are issued a voucher for the child care provider of their choice (child care center, family child care home, family member, friend or neighbor). 4Cs reimburses the child care provider directly after services have been provided to a family. Subsidies may not cover the provider’s full cost and families may be responsible for paying the remaining balance. The program is funded and strictly regulated by the California Department of Social Services and is intended to accommodate the individual needs of each family.
WHAT IS THE 4Cs’ ELIGIBILITY LIST?
4Cs’ eligibility list is NOT the same as a traditional waitlist. Per State regulations, families are served in order of priority of need (i.e., lowest income first) rather than the amount of time that they have been on the list. The eligibility list records families who submit an ACCESS application and are eligible for subsidized child care services. Families are assigned a number “rank” and grouped in order of priority based on gross income and family size. Families are enrolled in order of priority and group rank and not on a first-come, first-served basis. An assigned rank number and placement on the eligibility list DOES NOT guarantee enrollment.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR 4Cs’ ELIGIBILITY LIST?
TO APPLY, submit an ACCESS application to 4Cs. PLEASE NOTE: Applicants must live, work, or go to school in San Mateo County to be considered for 4C’s child care subsidy program. To be placed on the eligibility list, families must meet income requirements and have one of the following qualifying needs: open CPS case, employment, seeking employment, education/training, incapacitation, or seeking permanent housing.
HOW LONG IS THE WAIT FOR ENROLLMENT?
There is no predetermined length of time families wait before receiving child care assistance. Families are enrolled in order of priority based on the family rank determined by state income requirements. The amount of time a family remains on the eligibility list depends on family income and the number of slots and funding available.
I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YEARS, HOW CAN I BECOME HIGH PRIORITY FOR ENROLLMENT?
A family’s application status will remain the same until their priority group and rank is up for enrollment. If the family’s income changes and results in a change to a higher priority group, services may be received sooner. Families with the lowest income are always given priority for enrollment. 4Cs has no influence regarding the priority order of enrollment. Keeping income information up to date is critical and families are responsible for updating their application if information changes.
HOW ARE APPLICANTS SELECTED FOR ENROLLMENT?
Families are notified if/when a subsidy slot becomes available for them based on their rank/priority for enrollment. All information provided on the application will be verified before child care assistance can be offered. During enrollment, additional documentation will be required to confirm the family’s eligibility. A Family Enrollment Specialist will work with the family to complete the certification and enrollment process.
WILL MY CHILD CARE SERVICES BE FULLY COVERED BY 4Cs?
Child care services may not be fully covered through the subsidy program due to maximum reimbursement rates. Provider rates may be higher than the allowable reimbursement rate. Families are responsible for paying any balance that exceeds the reimbursement amount. Families may also be subject to state mandated family fees based on family size and income.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I SELECT A PROVIDER WHO IS NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING CHILD CARE SUBSIDIES?
Provider selection is exclusively the family’s choice. Families may select a provider who will best fit their needs. If the provider selected is not currently accepting subsidies, the provider will need to be authorized by 4Cs for payment. A child care provider can be authorized to receive subsidy payments once they are selected by the family. The Family Eligibility Coordinator will submit a provider request form with the family’s provider of choice to the Payment Department for processing and final authorization. Provider authorization by the Payment Department is required before subsidized services can begin.
WOULD RECEIVING CALWORKS DISQUALIFY ME FROM BEING ELIGIBLE FOR 4Cs’ SUBSIDY PROGRAM?
Parents currently receiving CalWORKS may qualify for immediate child care assistance through the CalWORKS Stage 1 program with San Mateo County Human Services Agency (HSA). Families are encouraged to contact their CalWORKs Eligibility Worker for additional details before submitting an ACCESS application. Parents that have received CalWORKS within the last two years may be eligible for immediate assistance through the CalWORKs Stage 2 program. For more information, please call 4Cs’ Enrollment Specialist at 650-517-1441.
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