CalWORKs Child Care Program

The CalWORKs Child Care Program is a supplemental part of the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs). Established in 1997, CalWORKs child care services enables families in need to have access to immediate, short-term child care, so that the parents or regular caregivers are able to go to work on a regular basis or to participate in welfare-to-work activities. The aim of the child care assistance program in California is to provide parents and caregivers with reliable support as they make the transition to work and live without welfare assistance. Continue reading this page if you wish to know more about the California CalWORKs Child Care Program eligibility requirements and program details.

CalWORKs Child Care Program Eligibility Requirements in California

The CalWORKs Child Care Program provides subsidized child care services to California families who are receiving welfare benefits or have low incomes. California’s child care assistance program incorporates a number of different stages, which mark transitions through the program as well as the eligibility of the participating family. Similar to food stamp program, the subsidized child care is available by use of vouchers at certain child care agencies, such as those that are licensed or licensed exempt.

All CalWORKs child care services are contingent on the household’s needs, as beneficiaries who are exempt for work requirements will not receive additional child care support. A family must also have need of the child care assistance program so a member can start a new job, continue being employed or participate in welfare-to-work activities on a regular basis.

The California child care assistance program is available for children whose parents or caregivers are receiving CalWORKs. Child care is available for children up to 12 years of age, and up to 21 years of age if there is exceptional needs such as being severely disabled. In some California counties, however, the age for meeting CalWORKs Child Care Program eligibility requirements for exceptional need is limited to 18 years of age. It is preferred that parents with children who are 11 and 12 years of age use an after-school program for child care. If a child ages out of the program, officials will end the subsidized child care.

Families are eligible for Stage One and Stage Two of the CalWORKs Child Care Programbased on qualifying for cash aid. Both of these stages are entitlements for those enrolled in CalWORKs. Services from Stage Three are subject to fund available and may not be granted to program participants. Former CalWORKs enrollees can receive CalWORKs child care services from Stage One and Stage Two for up to 24 months after separating from cash assistance.

Learn more about qualifying for CalWORKs benefits including child care services in our free comprehensive guide.

California CalWORKs Child Care Program Stages

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) administers Stage One of the CalWORKs Child Care Program solely, as these enrollees have recently become employed or who have just begun to participate in mandatory welfare-to-work activities. The CDSS runs Stage One CalWORKs child care services through the local California county welfare departments. The California Department of Education (CDE) administers Stage Two and Stage Three of the CalWORKs Child Care Program. The CDE also coordinates with Alternative Payment Program (APP) agencies.

Families newly enrolled in CalWORKs will start in Stage One. The local county human service department will move families to Stage Two of the CalWORKs Child Care Program when it considers the family stable enough, which is typically after six months. A family will typically remain in Stage Two until they have been withdrawn from cash aid for a maximum of two years. Once a family has exhausted the 24 months of Stage Two, it will transition to Stage Three, provided there are funds available. The CalWORKs Child Care Program will end participation in Stage Three if the household’s income surpasses 70 percent of the state median income.

To learn more about CalWORKs child care services, download our comprehensive guide.

Costs of California CalWORKs Child Care Program

Under certain circumstances, some families in the CalWORKs Child Care Program are required to pay a portion of their child care costs, known as family fees. This shared expense does not apply for families who are in receipt of CalWORKs cash aid. Fees for CalWORKs child care services are contingent on the household income relative to the number of family members. The maximum any family will be required to pay is 10 percent of their total income.

Additional, the county may consider the cost for child care and set maximum reimbursement limits that are relative to the child care agency, the area and the age of the child. For instance, the CDE in Los Angeles County will have a higher limit for child care centers than family child care homes as well as higher limits for infants younger than 24 months than school-aged minors. Parents may need to consider these limits when selecting a facility to use CalWORKs Child Care Program vouchers.


What Kind of Assistance Does the Department of Social Services Offer?

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) provides various types of assistance benefits to residents of the state. Through the CDSS, individuals and families can obtain temporary cash assistance, food assistance and more. Furthermore, applicants who are eligible for the benefits of one CDSS program will often qualify for the assistance benefits of another. Find out everything you need to know about the services and benefits provided by the Department of Social Services by downloading our helpful CDSS guide.


Who Can Benefit From California’s Department of Social Services?

To receive benefits from the CDSS, you and your family will need to meet certain eligibility criteria. The criteria used to determine an applicant’s eligibility typically include income, age, resources and citizenship, among other factors. Find out if you qualify for California DSS assistance benefits here.