Success Story: Family-Friendly Subsidy Policies in Alaska

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) embarked on a comprehensive review of the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) administrative rules and procedures that led them to the development of a new policy manual. The primary goal was to develop “an efficient, effective subsidy program and system that is child focused, family friendly, fair to providers and grantees, and in compliance with CCDF rules and regulations.”

DHSS program managers, Marcey Bishand Janice Braden, understand that clear and consistent policies and procedures form the foundation of an effective child care assistance program. This is particularly true in a state like Alaska, which serves a diverse population of low-income families through a network of contracted community-based organizations.

At the start of 2012, the DHSS Child Care Program Office (CCPO) began preparations for realigning the geographic service areas and awarding a new round of program operation contracts. In June of the same year, CCPO conducted an Internal Controls Self-assessment of program operations. Staff from the Office of Child Care, ACF Regional Office, and the National Center on Child Care Subsidy Innovation and Accountability (NCCCSIA) facilitated the assessment. These activities led CCPO to initiate a comprehensive review of theChild Care Assistance Program (CCAP) administrative rules and procedures, and development of a new policy manual.

CCPO identified the following objectives:

  1. Assist the Division of Public Assistance (DPA) staff in seeing the bigger picture and how each staff member/team contributes to the success of administering the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP); 
  2. Define roles and responsibilities of State, Designee, Contractor and Grantee staff as they pertain to the CCAP;  
  3. Align child care assistance policy with other DPA and CCPO program policies and procedures where it makes sense, and for consistency;
  4. Develop and implement checks and balances for maintaining program integrity; 
  5. Promote effective communication across all teams and jurisdictions; and
  6. Identify opportunities to create efficiency and effectiveness of program delivery.

Alaska hoped to streamline the eligibility process by removing barriers to program access and participation. They emphasized policy review and development in the areas of processing timeliness standards, income eligibility, copayment practices, interim change requirements, and best practices for verifying program eligibility.

The importance of the initiative became increasingly significant as progress on Federal CCDF rule changes and CCDBG Reauthorization progressed.  What began as an exercise of bringing structure, clarity, and usability to the policy document, allowed Alaska to examine the impact of theprogram on families, providers, staff, and the achievement of state and federal goals.

CCPO enlisted the help of DHSS staff and divisions, DPA, external partners and stakeholders, and engaged NCCCSIA early in the process to provide support and comment extensively on critical policy issues and draft manual sections. NCCCSIA  researched policies and best practices, provided examples of policy manuals and formats used in other States, and reviewed and commented on draft policy documents.

CCPO has submitted the final draft of the policy manual for management review and then public comment. State Administrator, Marcey Bish, praised everyone’s efforts, saying “This is truly valuable to us.” Alaska is hopeful revised regulations as well as policy and procedures in this area will be implemented in 2015.

Publication Date: 
March 2, 2015
Resource Type: 
General Information
Archive Status: