Grantee staff report that their expenses for full-time care are now fully covered, but that they do experience difficulties in the process of collecting reimbursements:
- Parents often need care immediately to take a job, enroll in an educational program, or continue working, yet there is often a delay in receipt of the paperwork for the child. If the grantee enrolls the child before paperwork is received in order to assist the parent, the grantee risks not being paid;
- The grantee may enroll a child because the parent reports that she has been authorized (and a case worker may confirm this), but when the printout arrives, the child's name is not on it. The grantee may not be paid until the correction is made; however, if the parent is truly not eligible, the grantee will never be paid;
- Authorized changes to the listing of eligible children can take two months to come through on the printout, and the grantee cannot be reimbursed until the computer has the corrected data;
- The county case worker often knows that a family has become ineligible before the parent tells the grantee, so the grantee can lose the ability to collect for child care services at the end of the child care time as well as at the beginning; and
- Case worker turnover in the county office is high. Two years ago, all eight case workers resigned at the same time. So, it takes considerable energy and time to maintain good working relationships with staff at the county office.
A further complexity is added by the requirement that parents who are eligible for ADC but not receiving it (e.g., those who are in school or working at a low-paying job) must pay a portion of the weekly cost of child care, or a minimum of $15. The grantee can bill the county for its share, but must bill each parent separately for his/her share. Collection from parents is a lengthy and difficult process. One staff member in the fiscal office must make this a major part of her job.
Grantee staff report several issues in managing the funds for full-day services. They are uncomfortable with the current arrangement for funding for the infant and toddler programs for four reasons: (1) it is cumbersome to follow through on all of the details required to get state reimbursement; (2) it is difficult to collect from parents; (3) the total amount of the reimbursement is insufficient to cover the costs of infant and toddler care; and (4) staff would rather not ask parents of preschoolers to apply for public funds in order to make up the difference. Staff would like to see Head Start fund infant and toddler care, so all of their monies would come from this single source, and staff could concentrate more on the delivery of quality services than finding funding for them.