Parents Can Choose How to Pay for Child Care

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Parents Can Choose How to Pay Their Child Care Provider

Child care, particularly for infants and toddlers, can be expensive and difficult for most families with low income to afford. Families on TANF/ASPIRE who are participating in work activities get help paying for their child care. Parents in Parents as Scholars also get help with child care while they are in school. All families who leave TANF/ASPIRE for work are guaranteed help paying for child care through the Transitional Child Care Program. Without this support, many parents would be unable to keep their jobs.

Paying the Child Care Provider – Parents Have a Choice

Families receiving help paying for child care through the TANF program and Transitional Child Care have a choice about the way in which their providers are paid.

They can ask the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to:

  • pay the provider directly, or
  • put the child care subsidy on their EBT card, and pay the provider themselves.

If the parent chooses to have DHHS pay the provider directly, they must request this option from DHHS. Otherwise, DHHS will put the amount on the family’s EBT card.

The Parent Fee

When a family leaves TANF for work and gets Transitional Child Care, they are expected to pay part of the cost of their child care. This parent fee is based on the household income and size of the family. The Department of Health and Human Services pays for the rest of the cost.

If the child care provider charges a parent more than the amount of the parent fee and the subsidy from DHHS combined, the parent is not required to pay the difference. If the child care provider will not provide care without the additional payment, the parent has two options.

The parent can:

  • change to a provider who does not charge this extra amount, or
  • choose to pay the difference if they want to keep the child with the same provider. In this case, the parent will have to pay the additional cost.

To find a new provider in their area, parents can call the local DHHS office.  

It is critically important that parents are able to access the help that they need to pay for the cost of child care, so that they can work and know that their children are well-cared for during these hours. If you have any questions about child care subsidies through the TANF/ASPIRE program or the Transitional Child Care Program, please call Crystal Bond at Maine Equal Justice toll free 1-866-626-7059, ext. 205.

May 2010; partially updated April 2013

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