The Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) -IDHS in Illinois is a program available through the State and helps low income working families with the cost of childcare. This program can help fully or partially fund the cost of high-quality childcare for families who meet the qualification criteria.
Who can apply for the Childcare Assistance Program in Illinois?
To be eligible for the program, you must be an Illinois resident with a child under 13 years of age. In addition, you must be employed or attending an educational institution.
At the early education center where I act as director, we help families by introducing them to the opportunity of CCAP funds. We help families begin the income qualification process. Along the way, families have many questions. Their questions often include: Do I know if I qualify? How soon will I know if I am approved? How much will I need to pay for care?
Below, I listed the three most frequently asked questions that families ask as they begin the process of applying for CCAP:
1. How do I know if I can qualify for CCAP?
When I talk with a prospective family asking about CCAP qualifications, I encourage them to apply and turn in all supporting documents. Parents can also utilize the IDHS income calculator to enter information such as family size, family income, and any other supplemental income. In addition, parents or guardians are approved only if the parent is working or going to school. If one parent is at home while the other parent is working or in school, the family will not qualify for these funds.
2. How soon will I know if I qualify?
The Childcare Assistance Program works with many families, so I let them know that the process can take several weeks for an approval. The time frame for approval lengthened due to COVID. However, Action for Children, a processor of CCAP in Cook County, works hard to partner with parents and providers to process all applications as quickly as possible. From a center standpoint, we are in a partnership with parents and try to work with the families’ application process. We know that childcare is a valuable resource for not only children, but working families and parent-students.
3. How much will I need to pay for childcare?
This frequent question is important, and will vary from center to center. The parent co-payment is the amount the state sets based on your family income. It is the parent’s responsibility to pay this monthly amount, as it is deducted out of the state’s funding for each specific childcare case. In addition to the monthly co-payment, most centers require a registration fee prior to enrollment. Once a parent receives the CCAP approval, the form will show how many days their child is approved for, if it is full-time or part-time care, and the parent co-payment. It is always a good idea for parents to inquire with the individual center of their choice regarding their policies and fee information.
Each question is important to ask when beginning the CCAP process and finding a high-quality childcare center. In short, if you are looking for childcare, find a center of interest and begin the CCAP application process as soon as possible. It is always possible to change to another childcare provider that accepts CCAP funding. Remember that if you are utilizing the Illinois CCAP funding, be sure to check with your desired center regarding their policies and fee structure. As a childcare provider, I am happy to help our prospective and current families with the Childcare Assistance Program.