Understanding federal eligibility requirements

Last Reviewed Date
September 22, 2023

A Lead Agency may use the funds provided by CCDF to provide child care subsidies only to eligible children.

For a child to be eligible, the Lead Agency must determine that:

  1. The child is younger than 13 years old at the time of application. The Lead Agency is permitted to raise this age to younger than 19 if the child is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves or is under court supervision.
  2. The child either:
    1. lives with a parent or parents, which can include parents, legal guardians, foster parents, or individuals acting in loco parentis (in place of a parent), who are working, attending job training, or attending an educational program; or
    2. receives or needs to receive protective services. The Lead Agency is allowed to expand the definition of children eligible under this category to include a range of vulnerable populations. 
  3. The child resides with a family whose total income does not exceed 85% of their State’s median income for a family of the same size, and whose assets do not exceed $1,000,000.
    1. The Lead Agency is permitted to waive the income requirement on a case by case basis if the child receives or needs to receive protective services per eligibility criteria (2.b) above.

A Lead Agency may establish eligibility requirements or priority rules that are stricter or in addition to those listed above, so long as they do not discriminate against children based on race, nationality, ethnicity, sex, religion, or disability; limit parental rights; violate any parts of the federal rules; or impact eligibility other than at initial determination or subsequent periods of redetermination.

In addition to the requirements outlined above, federal law requires that the child must be a citizen or a qualified non-citizen in order to receive federal public benefits. This requirement applies only to the child who is the primary beneficiary of the CCDF benefit. CCDF lead agencies are not permitted to request any information about the citizenship or immigration status of the parent, applicant, or any other family members. Therefore, OCC recommends not collecting this information.

To read more about the federal eligibility requirements for CCDF eligibility, visit 45 CFR Part 98 - Child Care and Development Fund.