State of Wisconsin
Department of Children and Families
Child Care Subsidy Program
The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families proposes to repeal ss. DCF 102.02 (11) (Note) and (12) (Note), 102.10 (4), 201.02 (10) and (Note), (17) (Note), and (18), 201.036 (3), (4) (Note), and 201.04 (2g); to renumber and amend s. DCF 201.039 (4) and 201.08 (1); to amend ss. DCF 102.01, 201.03 (title), 201.034 (2) (c), 201.036 (2), 201.038 (8) (title), 201.039 (2) (c), (5) (a), (7) (title) and (a) 6. a., (10) (a), (11) (a) (title), 1. (intro.), 2. (intro.) and a., and (b), (13) (a) (intro.), 1. a., b., c., and 2. (intro.), 201.08 (3) (a) 2., 5., and 6.; to repeal and recreate ss. DCF 102.02 (11) and (12), 102.10 (title), 201.02 (15) and (17), 201.036 (4), 201.039 (1), (4) (title), and (7) (a) 5., and 201.08 (2); and to create ss. DCF 102.10 (5), 201.02 (1d), (1h), (1p), (1t), (7m) and (Note), (9g), (9r), (11), (13m) and (Note), (16m), (17e) and (Note), (17s), (21), and (21m), 201.036 (2e), (2m), (2s), and (5), 201.037, 201.039 (2g), (2r), (4) (b), (10m), 201.04 (2) (ag) and (ar), 201.08 (1) (b), (3) (a) 7., and (4), relating to the child care subsidy program and affecting small business.
Analysis Prepared by the Department of Children and Families
Related statutes and rules: DCF 202, 250, 251, and 252
Explanation of Agency Authority
The department administers the child care subsidy program under s. 49.155, Stats. Section 49.155 (1) (bm), Stats., as created by 2017 Wisconsin Act 59, provides that “liquid assets” does not include any financial resources designated by the department by rule as excluded for the purpose of the limit on the total liquid assets of a family under s. 49.155 (1m) (cm), Stats. Section 49.155 (1m) (d), Stats., provides that an individual may receive a subsidy if the individual satisfies other eligibility criteria established by the department by rule. Section 49.155 (2m), Stats., as created by 2017 Wisconsin Act 269, provides that the department may promulgate a rule that establishes a hardship exemption to the limits on the value of a family’s home and vehicles under s. 49.155 (1m) (cr), Stats.. Section 49.155 (5) (a), Stats., provides that an individual receiving a subsidy under this section is liable for the difference, if any, between the cost of the child care provided by the child care provider or providers selected by the individual and the subsidy amount. The department shall specify minimum or estimated copayment amounts based on family size, income level, and other factors, a schedule of which will be available in electronic form on the department’s Internet site and in paper form. Section 227.11 (2) (a), Stats., expressly confers rule-making authority on each agency to promulgate rules interpreting the provisions of any statute enforced or administered by the agency if the agency considers it necessary to effectuate the purpose of the statute.
Summary of the Rule
The rules make changes related to new federal regulations for the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) under 45 CFR Part 98. CCDF is a major funding source for the child care subsidy program. The primary focus of the applicable CCDF regulations is supporting continuity of care for children and financial stability for families.
In general, a child care administrative agency determines the assistance group’s child care needs following the parent’s eligibility determination and 12 months later following the parent’s eligibility redetermination. If a parent is expecting a change that may affect the assistance group’s child care needs, the child care administrative agency will issue an authorization that ends on the date of the expected change.
The CCDF regulations and the proposed rules allow a parent to continue to receive subsidized child care for up to the same number of hours as the parent’s previous authorization at the following times:
The parent is continuing to participate in an approved activity, but the number of hours that the assistance group needs child care is decreasing.
The parent is taking a temporary break from an approved activity for no more than 3 months.
The parent is in an approved activity search period following the end of any participation in an approved activity for no more than 3 months.
The proposed rules create exceptions to the continuity of care provisions in certain situations. During a 12-month eligibility period, a child care administrative agency is required to conduct a new assessment of the assistance group’s child care needs and issue a new authorization based on the assessment at all of the following times:
When a second parent or a teen parent of the child moves into the household.
When the parent requests an authorization for subsidized child care more than one calendar month after the parent’s previous authorization ended.
When the assistance group’s child care needs no longer align with the child care provider’s hours of operation.
When the parent changes child care providers.
When the school year begins for a school-aged child.
When a parent has reached the 24th month of the education time limit under s. 49.155 (1m) (a) 4. or 5., Stats.
During a parent’s 12-month eligibility period, the copayment amount may only be increased for the following reasons:
The increased copayment amount corresponds to an increase in the number of hours authorized for a child care subsidy to the parent.
The income of the assistance group was at or above 190 percent of the federal poverty level but under 200 percent at the parent’s last eligibility redetermination; the increased copayment amount corresponds to an increase in the federal poverty level of the assistance group; and the copayment amount does not exceed the amount that is assessed for an assistance group at 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
The income of the assistance group was at or above 200 percent of the federal poverty level at the parent’s last eligibility redetermination and the parent’s copayment is increasing by $1 for every $3 increase in income over 200 percent of the federal poverty level, as provided under s. 49.155 (1m) (c) 1d., Stats.
Under the current rules, a parent’s copayment amount is based on the size of the group, gross income, and the number of children in child care. If a child attends child care 20 hours or fewer per week, the copayment is 50 percent of the full-time amount.
The proposed rules add “the number of hours authorized for a child care subsidy” as a factor to be used in determining the copayment amount, along with group size, gross income, and the number of children in child care. The proposed rules repeal the 50 percent reduction for 20 or fewer hours per week. These changes will allow for a gradual increase in a parent’s copayment as the parent’s authorized hours increase rather than a disproportionate increase in the copayment amount when the parent’s hours increase from 20 or fewer to 21 hours per week.