Family composition

Last Reviewed Date
September 22, 2023

This section shows how to define family unit for CCDF eligibility determination and capture information from the relevant adult family members.

Defining family

A child care assistance application must capture information about the child who needs care and any parents residing in the home. Parents can include biological parents, step parents, legal guardians, foster parents, or individuals acting in loco parentis (in place of a parent). Beyond this, there are no CCDF federal requirements that prescribe how a family unit must be defined.

What information should I capture?

When asking about adult family members, OCC recommends that Lead Agencies only require that applicants provide information about parents (as defined above) residing in the home.

For extended households, requiring applicants to add everyone living in the house can cause significant burden and is not required by federal rules. Errors may occur when household members are included for whom applicants are unable to easily obtain income, work requirement, or asset information, such as roommates and non-parents. Who is included in the Lead Agency definition of family unit, and who is not included, should be made very clear in the child care assistance application.

Examples of family unit definitions

From select Lead Agencies’ FY2022-2024 CCDF Plans

  1. “For purposes of determining eligibility for subsidized child care, a family is defined as one of the following: (a) Parents and their dependent children and any dependent relatives who reside in the same household; or (b) a young parent and his or her child(ren) who reside in the same household.”

    From Massachusetts’s CCDF State Plan

  2. “CAPS Policy Manual 5.3 defines a family unit as a parental authority with legal, biological, or day-to-day responsibility for children in the home and all those for whom the parental authority is responsible. This policy also notes that multiple family units may reside in the same house.

    CAPS Policy Manual 5.4 states that the following individuals living in the household shall be included in the family unit: Biological, adopted, or step children under the age of 18; children under legal or physical guardianship of the parental authority; spouse/parent residing in the home; unmarried adults living together with a mutual biological or legal child residing in the same household; spouse of the parental authority temporarily absent from the home.?

    From Georgia’s CCDF State Plan

Example screens

Step A: Ask if any of the child's other parents live in the home

If YES, complete Steps B-D 

Step B: Listing other parent's information

Step C: Ask about the parent's work and income information


Step D: Ask about the parent's education and job training information