For Immediate Release
Aug. 8, 2018
Media Contact:Amy Webb
DHS Chief of Communications & Community Engagement
Waiting List for Child Care Assistance Cleared with Additional Funding
DHS accepting applications from parents working or going to school who meet an income requirement
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) is now providing child care assistance to 1,683 new children, eliminating a backlog of families that had been waiting for services. Some families had been waiting for a year or more.
“This is a big moment for the children of Arkansas because this money is helping children get into high-quality early learning programs,” said DCCECE Director Tonya Williams. “Research shows children who access that kind of early education will do better all the way through high school.”
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced in May that the state had received $26 million in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant as part of a federal budget deal that included a $5.8 billion increase for the program. Congress approved the bill, and President Donald Trump signed into law in February.
The block grant funds what is commonly called the “child care vouchers” program. At the time of Hutchinson’s announcement, DCCECE estimated it could serve about 3,800 new children with the additional funding, and 2,056 were on a waiting list for those services. Programs that participate in the child care voucher program also must participate in the state quality improvement and rating system for child care, which ensures children are in high-quality educational settings.
Williams said that her staff began calling all 1,400 waiting families in May. Of the 2,056 waiting children, all but 373 are now getting assistance. Williams said the remaining families either declined assistance or had not updated their contact information and could not be reached. Money is available to serve additional families.
To be eligible to receive child care assistance, there must be at least one child in the home age 12 or younger, and the household income cannot be above 200 percent of the federal poverty level. At least one parent must work at least 30 hours per week, go to school full time, or be enrolled in a certification or training program. Families interested in applying for assistance can do so at www.access.arkansas.gov.