Subsidized Child Care

Need help paying for child care? If you do, you are looking for "subsidized" child care. There are programs in Northern Alameda County which provide help to low-income parents. But, because many more families need this kind of help than there is money for this purpose, you must start early to find a subsidized program for your child. Our updated handout on subsidized child care is available here. The following frequently asked questions may also assist you in your search for subsidized child care.

Who funds subsidized child care?
What types of programs are available?
Who operates subsidized programs?
How can I get my child into a subsidized program?

Who funds subsidized child care?

The California Department of Education (CDE) administers most of the child care funds in California. Some local governments, corporations and foundations also provide funds to serve children from low-income families.

What types of programs are available?

  • Center-based Care
    General child care and development programs are state and federally funded programs that use centers operated or administered by either public or private agencies and local educational agencies. These agencies provide child development services for children from birth through 12 years of age (and older children who have exceptional needs). However, there are very few child care centers that serve infants. Most serve children beginning at age three. These programs generally offer full day, full year care.
  • State Preschool
    Part-day comprehensive developmental programs for three to five-year-old children from low-income families.
  • Alternative Payment (AP) Programs
    These programs do not provide the actual child care. Instead, they pay for the child care of eligible families in licensed family child care homes, centers or exempt child care situations. The parent chooses the child care program. Then the AP program signs a contract with the parent and provider and pays the provider directly. AP programs serve specific geographic areas.

Who operates subsidized programs?

Programs are run by a wide variety of institutions – nonprofit, for-profit organizations, churches, school districts, local governments, etc.

How can I get my child into a subsidized program?

  • CalWORKs (Welfare to Work) Programs:
    These programs serve parents receiving cash aid (welfare). Parents who have worked their way off cash aid but are still low-income are also eligible. They are funded by both the state and federal government. New welfare recipients go through a CalWORKs orientation. During the first few months after they attend this orientation, the child care (chosen by the parent) is paid for by a Stage 1 alternative payment (AP) program. Once the CalWORKs parents are working or in a stable job-training situation, they are transferred to a Stage 2 AP program. Parents remain in Stage 2 until two years after their income makes them ineligible for cash aid. At that point they are transferred to a Stage 3 program. This is a closed process and only parents on welfare can enter any of these programs. (To find out if you are eligible for CalWORKs call 263-2420.)
  • Non-CalWORKs Programs:
    Parents not enrolled in CalWORKs need to apply at each individual subsidized program. In order to qualify for subsidized child care, your family income must be below a certain level set by CDE. See the updated handout linked above to determine whether you are eligible. For most state/federally funded programs parents must be working, looking for work, going to school, in training, or medically incapacitated. You can enroll your child by telephone by contacting the agencies in the handout whose phone numbers are listed.

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