Child Care State Reports . I. Child Care Subsidies


Figure 1.  Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Eligibility and Receipt in California

Chart on children by family type

Sources:  Urban Institute simulations and state administrative data reported to the Child Care Bureau.

  • 3,482,000 children under age 13 (or under age 18 if disabled) live in families where the family head (and spouse if present) is working or is in an education or training program, as shown in Figure 1.  Children across all family income levels are included in this estimate.  Most of these children (3,280,000) are under age 13 and living with working parents.1
  • 1,382,000 of these children, and 930,000 families, are estimated to meet California’s income guidelines for child care assistance under the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) October 1997 state plan.  The eligibility estimate would be even higher — 1,732,000 children — if California raised income eligibility limits to 85 percent of State Median Income, the maximum level allowed under Federal law. 2
    • To be eligible under California’s October 1997 state plan, a family of 3 had to have income below $30,306, or 75 percent of State Median Income.
    • Most eligible children (85 percent) live in families with annual income below 200 percent of the Federal poverty threshold and more than one-third (35 percent) are living in poverty.  About 15 percent live in families that report receiving cash welfare.
    • Most (1,223,000) eligible children are under age 13 with working parents; the remaining children have parents in education/training programs or are disabled youth under 18.
  • 101,000 children in California received child care subsidies through CCDF-funded programs in an average month in 1998.  This estimate suggests that 7 percent of the eligible population under state limits (and 6 percent of children who would be eligible under the Federal maximum limits) were served with CCDF funds.3
  • The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is the major source of Federal funding allocated to states to subsidize the child care expenses of low- and moderate-income families so they can work, or attend education or training programs.  Using CCDF dollars along with state funds, California has designed its own child care program within broad parameters specified under federal law.  CCDF-funded subsidies, and the number of children that the state reported were served with these subsidies, are highlighted in this report because CCDF is a primary source of funding in most states.  Also, CCDF administrative data is the most comparable source of child care data across states.  It should be noted, however, that California, like many other states, also uses other funding sources to provide child care subsidies.
  • In 1998, there were an estimated 200,000 children on the waiting list for government subsidies in California.  Many counties in the state have waiting lists in excess of 1,000 children.  Low-income families in California may have to wait for more than a year before they receive child care subsidies.4
  • The state of California has a priority system for determining who receives child care subsidies.  Children receiving cash welfare assistance through CalWORKS and children at-risk in the protective services system are guaranteed child care subsidies.  Low-income working families receive subsidies as funds become available.
  • In addition to the waiting list, state staff believe that there are eligible families that do not apply for child care subsidies.  This belief is corroborated by staff from child care resource and referral agencies within the state of California.