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Minnesota Takes Steps to Align the Child Care Assistance Program and Head Start/Early Head Start
Financing, Child Care, Early Head Start, Financing
Source Of Information:
ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates
In response to recommendations from Minnesota’s 2006 Governor’s Summit on School Readiness, the state Department of Human Services (DHS) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) are working to improve alignment between the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS). One of the primary goals of the project has been to promote integration of CCAP and HS/EHS funds to support high quality full-day services in one location.
MDHS and MDE have improved coordination between the State CCDF-funded CCAP and HS/EHS by clarifying how funding could be used together. State leaders—in consultation with Federal staff at the Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start—developed resources to promote local partnerships, outline potential models, and provide guidance on developing a budget. These include: •Principles that apply to blending funds and promoting full-day models that support continuity of care and integrated services. •Descriptions of example program partnership models and sample budget agreements. •Written policy guidance for counties and agencies to use in authorizing care for families who are enrolled in both programs. •Materials to explain how CCAP payments interact when a child receiving subsidy attends EHS/HS or an integrated Head Start–child care program.
CCAP is administered at the county level in Minnesota. Prior to this project, there was little consistency in how counties authorized CCAP payments for children attending integrated HS/EHS programs. To address this, DHS and MDE developed a set of basic criteria that full-day HS/EHS programs or HS/EHS-child care partnership programs must meet to be designated as integrated full-day HS/EHS programs. The state established an application process to verify the criteria were being met. To be approved, programs must provide care for at least eight hours per day in one location, meet HS Performance Standards, and submit a partnership agreement or cost allocation plan identifying how child care and HS/EHS funds are being used. Approved programs qualify for a full day CCAP payment for eligible children.
In addition to creating an approval process for programs, DHS and MDE developed guidance on implementing braided funding. They identified three levels of service: core care and education (space, teaching staff, and meals), enhanced education (increased staff education, research-based curriculum, and on-going child assessment), and comprehensive support (family/social services, mental health services, and health and dental services). The child care license holder, whether a HS/EHS agency or a child care provider, is primarily responsible for the core care and education services, while HS/EHS is primarily responsible for the additional services. Partners have flexibility in determining the specifics of how funds are allocated when designing their program budgets.
Once the application process and policy guidance were developed, DHS and MDE staff conducted a series of webinars and videoconferences on the topic to improve counties’ understanding of the payment processes. They also provide ongoing technical assistance to HS/EHS grantees and child care providers on topics such as CCAP eligibility, HS Performance Standards, budgeting, and negotiation of provider agreements. Efforts to increase parent awareness of integrated child care-HS/EHS options are also underway.
Minnesota’s intentional efforts to integrate CCAP and HS/EHS funding are giving more children access to full-day comprehensive care. The state has plans to document the effectiveness of coordinated funding with a long-term evaluation.
For additional information visit the Minnesota Department of Human Services website www.dhs.state.mn.us