Alabama DHR increases subsidies to help low-income families afford child care

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The Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) has increased subsidies to help low-income families afford child care services thanks to the $40.7 million of additional Alabama child care funding authorized by the Omnibus Bill signed by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

Rates will vary depending on the market rate in each region.

For example, a center in Birmingham, located in the most costly region, will see the rate for toddlers and infants go from $118 a week to $142. In Fort Payne, located in the least costly region, will see the weekly rate for toddlers and infants go form $78 per week to $110 per week.

The varying costs follow a market rate survey that was conducted by DHR in 2017 to determine child care costs in Alabama by region.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to provide increased subsidy payments that should improve the quality of child care in Alabama,” stated DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “This will make it easier for low income working parents to find quality child care while they work to improve their family’s financial situation.”

An additional bonus

Also effective October 1, 2019 is an increase in the yearly Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Bonus, as well as making the QRIS Star designation available to Group and Family Day Care Homes.

All licensed child care providers in Alabama can participate in QRIS, earning from 1 Star to 5 Stars. The yearly bonus is higher for each Star in good standing. These bonuses are intended to encourage centers and homes to provide higher quality care for all children in child care throughout Alabama.

“We believe that the QRIS will improve the quality of care in centers that participate in the program,” added Buckner “It is our hope that more centers across Alabama will see the value in participating in QRIS and that parents will want their children to attend centers that participate in this program. The children in Alabama deserve the very best in quality childcare.”

Providers who receive a Star and also accept child care subsidy will receive a tiered rate for subsidy children.  Each Star will make the provider eligible for 2 percent over the base subsidy rate

  • 1 Star is 2 percent over base rate
  • 2 Stars is 4 percent over base rate
  • 3 Stars is 6 percent over base rate
  • 4 Stars is 8 percent over base rate
  • 5 Stars is 10 percent over base rate

DHR spent $98 million for child care subsidy reimbursements to providers for Fiscal Year 2018 and plan to spend $112 in FY 2019.

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