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Applying for child care can be complicated. This roadmap may help.

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071315 Little Dude Academy 76

When it comes to applying for help paying for child care, there are four different avenues for financial assistance.The one that's most appropriate for your family depends on a number of factors, including income, participation in other services, and more. Read on to find the right program for your family...

  • Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten: This free program is eligible to ALL 4-year-old Florida residents. It covers up to 540 hours of early childhood education during the school year, or 300 hours during the summer, to prepare the child for kindergarten. Families can apply online or call the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County (ELC) at 561-514-3300 for more information. Once families receive a VPK certificate, they can choose a child care site that is licensed as a VPK provider by the state. For a list of providers, visit the ELC’s VPK website (linked above) or contact ELC at 561-514-3300.
  • School Readiness: This funding is available to working families in need. Eligibility is based on income and other priorities. Families can apply online or call ELC at 561-514-3300 for more information. Once a family’s application is accepted, they will be placed on a waitlist. When a spot becomes available, they will be asked to meet with Early Learning Coalition staff to finalize eligibility. After being approved for this assistance, families will receive a certificate that can be used with any child care provider under contract with ELC.
  • Early Head Start & Head Start: These programs serve children 0-3 and 4-5, respectively. To be eligible, a child’s family must meet current Federal Poverty Guidelines, or the child must be in the foster care system. Families can download the application through Lutheran Services of Florida, which oversees the program in Palm Beach County, or call 561-233-1600. The Early Learning Coalition also offers Early Head Start (children 0-3) services. For more information, contact ELC at 561-514-3300.
  • Children’s Services Council (CSC) Scholarship: To access a CSC Scholarship, families must be directly referred to the Early Learning Coalition from a CSC Healthy Beginnings provider, from one of CSC’s 10 BRIDGES sites, or from one of the other specific programs listed in the categories.
Child care scholarships through Children’s Services Council are available to children based on the five different categories listed below.

  1. CSC Scholarships - for children, from birth to 12 years old, who have lost school readiness eligibility and attend a CSC-approved child care site. These children can continue in care without disruption.
  2. Domestic Violence/Homelessness Scholarships - for children, from birth to 12 years old, who have been referred from an authorized domestic violence or homeless shelter and whose eligibility has run out. These children can continue in care without disruption at a CSC-approved child care site.
  3. Healthy Beginning Scholarships - for children, from birth through age 5, who are participating in a program within CSC’s Healthy Beginning System of Care.
  4. Afterschool Scholarships - for school-age children through age 12 who are attend programs participating in Prime Time’s Quality Improvement System. This scholarship may also be offered for school-age children who are determined to be no longer eligible for subsidized child care and who are attending a QIS (PrimeTime’s Quality Improvement System) participating site.
  5. Relative Caregiver Scholarships - for children, from birth through 12, who live with a relative caregiver (grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.), who are referred by Legal Aid of Palm Beach County.

Once approved for this assistance, families will receive a certificate that can be used at a child care site that participates in CSC’s Strong Minds Network.

Families who are unsure of what child care assistance they may be eligible for should contact the Early Learning Coalition for guidance. ELC also can provide resource and referral information for families paying privately for care.

SOURCES:

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