Parental Activities and Reason for Care

Parents must be working or participating in education or training activities, except for temporary interruptions. However, children receiving or in need of receiving protective services may be eligible even if their parents do not otherwise meet work or activity requirements.

Lead Agencies are not required to determine families’ need for care based solely upon the actual hours parents attend work, education, and training activities. Lead Agencies have flexibility to consider children’s developmental needs and specific family circumstances, such as jobs requiring split work schedules, breaks between education courses, and sleep time for parents who work multiple jobs or have nontraditional work hours. The law also requires that states not unduly disrupt parents’ employment in order to maintain their eligibility, and that they adopt processes that take into account irregular fluctuations in earnings. [1]

Lead Agencies are required to provide the following definitions in their CCDF Plans:

  • Working: Any work-related activities may be included in the definition of working, including periods of job search, travel time to and from work, self-employment, and temporary interruptions.
  • Attending job training or educational program: Any training or education-related activities may be included in this definition, including study time, travel time to and from education or training, and attendance of online courses in the home.
  • Protective services: This definition may extend beyond formal child welfare, foster care, or subsidized guardianship cases. Lead Agencies may elect to include other vulnerable populations, such as children experiencing homelessness, children of teen parents, and children at risk of needing protective services.


[1] Office of Child Care. (2016). Child Care and Development Fund final rule frequently asked questions. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.