Frequently Asked Questions About Health and Human Services

What Health and Human Services should I apply for?

Child Care Works Program

What Health and Human Services should I apply for?
You should apply for every benefit that you think you may need.
When your application arrives the County Assistance Office will look at your income and tell you what Health and Human Services you can receive.
Need help finding and paying for child care?
If you are concerned about the cost of quality child care, the Child Care Works Subsidized Child Care Program may be able to help.
What is the Subsidized Child Care Program?
The Subsidized Child Care Program helps low-income families pay a portion of their child care fees. The state and federal governments fund this program, which is managed by the Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) located in your county.

If you meet the guidelines:
  • The ELRC will pay a part of your child care cost. This is called a subsidy payment.
  • You will pay a part of the cost. This is called the family co-pay.
  • The subsidy payment and the family co-pay go directly to the child care provider.
NOTE: If your child care subsidy does not pay the full amount that your child care provider charges, the provider may ask you to pay the difference between the subsidy payment and their private charges.
What are the family income guidelines?
The annual income for a family to be eligible to receive subsidy is 200% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (FPIG) or less.

Click here for more information about Subsidized Child Care income guidelines.
What are the additional guidelines for the Subsidized Child Care Program?
The following are the basic guidelines you must meet in order to be potentially eligible for subsidized child care. You must:
  • Live in Pennsylvania.
  • Have a child who is:
  • Under 13 years of age or between the age of 13 and 19 who has a disability, developmental delay, injury or impairment, who need(s) child care while you work or attend education or training.
  • A citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residency.
  • Meet income guidelines for your family size.
  • Work 20 or more hours a week, or work 10 hours and participate in education or training for 10 hours a week.
  • Have a promise of a job that will start within 30 days of your application for subsidized child care.
  • Attend a school if you are a teen parent.
  • Have proof of identification for each parent or caretaker in the home.
How do I show that I meet the guidelines?
Certain items needed to see if you meet the subsidized child care guidelines are based on your word, and some require additional proof.

The information you provide will be kept confidential. The information in your file will be used for your participation in the subsidized child care program.
  • You may self-certify information - this means the ELRC will accept a statement from the parent or caretaker as proof of the following information:
  • Age of Child
  • Citizenship or immigration status
  • Immunization status (shot records)
  • Days and hours that a child needs care (former TANF client)
  • Former TANF status
  • Extended time frame for a face-to-face meeting based on a hardship
  • You may self declare information - this means you do not have to submit information right away. You can tell the ELRC the information that is needed. You will then have 30 days to submit the proof. You will need to sign a form given to you by the ELRC.
What are Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC)?
The ELRC office is the center for child care information, child care help and the Keystone STARS program serving your county. You can call or visit the ELRC office.

The ELRC will:
  • Review your paper or online application to see if you meet the guidelines for the subsidized child care program.
  • Help you find a quality child care provider.
  • Provide information and ideas about how to select the best possible early learning program or setting for your child by identifying programs with higher STAR level ratings participating in the Keystone STARS programs.
  • Provide help to the child care program you select to improve quality and better serve your child; just look for the STARS.
How can I be certain my child is safe and well cared for?
The most important way to be certain that your child is safe and well cared for is to become a partner with your child care provider. There is an important checklist which will provide you with ideas about what to look for at the provider location you choose. The Child Care Works program requires all providers paid for their child care services by the ELRC to complete a Provider Agreement and to pass a CareCheck background clearance.
What is CareCheck?
CareCheck is a required background clearance for Relative/Neighbor Providers caring for children whose parents participate in the subsidized child care program.

People who care for three or fewer children, not including their own children, are not required to have a state license but can receive subsidized child care funding. These child care providers usually give care in their homes and are called Relative/Neighbor providers.

While relatives and neighbors may provide excellent care and best meet your family's needs, these providers who participate in subsidized child care are now required to complete CareCheck. CareCheck is the Department of Human Services's program that requires background clearances for all Relative/Neighbor providers. Relative/Neighbor providers must complete CareCheck in order to be eligible to participate in the Subsidized Child Care Program. Parents who receive subsidy need to know that their children are safe when they go to work. As a parent who receives subsidized child care, it is your right and responsibility to know about your child's caregiver and the type of care they provide. Background clearances are one way to find out more about the person watching your child. Remember, even a friend or neighbor who you know well may have a child abuse or criminal history you don't know about.
What can I do if my child care provider turns out to have been a poor choice for me?
Regardless of all of your hard work to locate quality child care, there are many circumstances which may result in an unsatisfactory child care situation for you. You have a responsibility to your child and your family to start again to consider your needs, and pursue the best possible child care arrangement. Your ELRC will work with you any number of times to help identify possible providers.

For more information, call the Child Care Works helpline at: 1-877-4-PA-KIDS (1-877-472-5437) or click here to find the appropriate ELRC for your county. Click here to view the Subsidized Child Day Care Eligibility Regulations. If you receive County Assistance Office child care benefits, view your eligibility regulations here.