ACS's Division of Child Care and Head Start oversees the largest municipal childcare system in the country and provides quality child care and Head Start services to approximately 120,000 children and their families during the course of the year. ACS does not directly operate childcare programs. Most children are served through contracts with hundreds of private, non-profit organizations that operate childcare programs in communities across the city. Children - ages two months through 12 years - are cared for either in group childcare centers that are licensed by the Department of Health or in the homes of childcare providers that are registered by the Department of Health. ACS also issues vouchers to eligible families that may be used by parents to purchase care from any legal childcare provider in the City.
ACS-subsidized child care serves a dual purpose. It promotes family well-being by allowing parents to maintain employment, supporting child protective, foster care and preventive services, and serving families that are homeless or need child care for medical or social reasons. At the same time, it provides the children with a solid foundation for appropriate development and education. Teachers and aides strive to help children develop physically, socially, and emotionally, and each program operated by an affiliated sponsor has an educational component to promote school readiness. Program quality is assured through a thorough annual assessment process as well as regular visits from educational consultants.
In order for a family to receive subsidized child care services, the family must meet specific financial and social eligibility criteria that are determined by federal, state, and local regulations. In order to determine whether a family is eligible for subsidized child care, the parent must appear at an eligibility interview at an ACS child care office.
Financial eligibility is determined by a family's gross income, with consideration of family size. Fees for child care services are based on a sliding scale.
Social eligibility requires that a family has an approved "reason for care". Acceptable Reasons for Requiring Child Care:
- You are working or in an approved training or educational program
- Your child or family is receiving services from either ACS or the Human Resources Administration (HRA) or a social services agency.
To find a City-funded child care near you, go to 311 Online.