Who is eligible for Child Care Assistance?

  1. Recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  2. Teen parents enrolled in full-time elementary, high school, or GED classes to obtain a high school degree or equivalent.
  3. Unhoused families that meet income requirements for their family size.
  4. New applicants needing child care to work and/or attend school must be at or below 200% of the most current Federal Poverty Level for their family size.
  5. New applicants who need child care to find employment or an approved education/training program.

What does "Income eligible" mean?

A family is considered income-eligible when the combined gross monthly income of all family members is at or below the maximum income level for the corresponding family size. In two-parent families, both incomes must be combined to determine eligibility. Two-parent families include those with 2 or more adults living in the home, such as the applicant and his or her spouse or parents of a common child in the home. If due to a lack of resources, restricted intake criteria are put into place, there may be different income levels for approval based on whether this is a new application (intake) or a redetermination of, or a change of information on an existing case.

Must I be the child parent's to qualify for the program?

No. A child's legal guardian or other relative(s) caring for the child is also eligible and should fill out an application form. Foster parents can receive child care assistance from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

How old can the child be?

All children under age 13 are eligible. Children aged 13 to 18 are eligible if they are under court supervision or have written documentation from a medical provider stating that they are physically or mentally incapable of caring for themselves.

Can I receive child care assistance for the time I travel to/or from work or school/training?

Yes. You can receive child care assistance for the reasonable time you spend traveling to and from your child care provider to your job or school/training.

What if my work schedule varies?

You may submit additional paycheck stubs and attach information to establish an average work schedule.

What if my child's other parent or step-parent lives in my home?

If the child’s other parent or stepparent lives in your home, they also need to be working or in school, training, or a TANF-required activity or seeking employment in order for you to receive a child care subsidy. The other parent or stepparent also needs to complete pages 5 & 6 of the application and submit the same kinds of documents as you do, which are listed in the application instructions. Both parents must sign page 14 of the child care application.

Choosing a Child Care Provider

How can I find a child care provider?

You may call a parent advisor at Child Care Connection 309-686-3750 option 3 to get help finding child care for your child. It is best to have a child care provider before you submit your application.

Does my child care provider have to be licensed?

No. Certain home child care providers are not required to have a license. A provider without a license must be at least 18 years old and may care for three (3) children including the provider’s own children or may care for all of the children from a single household. 

Will the state pay relatives to take care of my child?

Yes. Relatives can be paid to provide child care even if they live in the home with the child however, siblings of the child in care cannot be paid if they reside in the same home as the child. Parents and stepparents also cannot be paid as child care providers regardless of where they reside. TANF clients can be paid child care providers; however, earnings must be reported to their IDHS caseworkers. Exception: The state will not pay any relatives included in the child’s TANF grant to care for the child.

Does the state do any kind of background check on child care providers?

In Illinois, all child care providers must undergo a background check. The background check consists of three parts: a CANTS check (Child Abuse & Neglect Tracking System/SACVVIS), and other state child protection systems, or the National Registry, as appropriate a SOR check (Sex Offender Registry and the National Sex Offenders Registry as appropriate), and a criminal history record check which is done through fingerprinting submitted to the Illinois State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Your provider will be required to have some or all of these checks. If care is done in your provider’s home, anyone who lives in the home who is age 13 or older will also be required to be checked. There is no charge to the parent or the provider for the background check. Your CCR&R will tell your provider and their household members which checks they are required to complete.


If I receive child care assistance from the state will I still have to pay something?

The State requires all parents to pay a monthly “co-payment” directly to their provider. Monthly co-payments are based on gross monthly income and family size. The State will deduct the parent co-payment from the total charges up to the maximum child care rate. If the co-payment is more than the total charges, the parent pays the lesser amount to the provider and no payment is made by the State.

Can my child care provider charge me more than my co-payment amount?

Yes, if your provider charges private paying parents a higher rate than the IDHS program pays, your provider can ask you to pay the difference by requiring a fee in addition to your co-payment. Be sure that you and your provider discuss what you are expected to pay before care for your child starts. If your provider’s costs are too high for you, your CCR&R may be able to help you find a child care provider who is more affordable. Call them for help finding a new child care provider.

How can I check the status of payments?

Clients and providers can call the IDHS toll-free phone number to find our payment information. If you have a touch-tone phone, you can call 1-800-804-3833 to find out if your payments have been entered by the CCR&R and mailed by the State Comptroller. This toll-free number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also get payment information by visiting the State Comptroller’s website at: http://illinoiscomptroller.gov/ and selecting vendor payments.

For Providers

When will I get paid?

It can take 4 to 8 weeks for you to receive the first payment. After you receive the first payment, regular payments should arrive monthly. The reason the first payment takes longer is that your name and social security number must be recorded with the Office of the Comptroller before any payments can be made. To do this, the CCR&R will mail you a W9 tax form. The sooner you neatly complete and return the W9 form to the CCR&R, the sooner you'll get paid. After the Office of the Comptroller has your information on file, we can send you the first “billing certificate”. This is the form that you and your client will complete each month to tell IDHS how much to pay you for your services.

How can I expect to be paid?

Providers may choose to be paid by paper check (“warrant”) issued through the mail, Direct Deposit, or through the Illinois Debit Card. For more information regarding the Illinois Debit Card, go to the following website:

To sign up for Direct Deposit, call the Comptroller’s Electronic Commerce Division at (217)557-0930 to receive an authorization form.

If you do not set up payments to go to a Debit Card or Direct Deposit, you will receive paper checks in the mail. Regardless of the method you choose, at least one paper check will be issued to you. Pursuant to Section 9.03 of the State Comptroller Act, vendors may be assessed a $2.50 processing fee per paper check once they have issued more than 30 paper checks in the same fiscal year from the same state agency.

Can taxes be taken out of my payments?

Child care providers are considered to be self-employed and taxes cannot be deducted from IDHS payments. This income is taxable and must be reported when filing federal and state income tax returns. The Office of the Comptroller sends out a 1099 tax information form after each calendar year for all individual providers that earn $600 or more a calendar year.

How can I check the status of payments?

Clients and providers can call the IDHS toll-free phone number to find our payment information. If you have a touch-tone phone, you can call 1-800-804-3833 to find out if your payments have been entered by the CCR&R and mailed by the State Comptroller. This toll-free number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also get payment information by visiting the State Comptroller’s website at: http://illinoiscomptroller.gov/ and selecting vendor payments.


Is there a waiting list for child care assistance?

No. To the extent resources permit, it is the intent of the Department to provide child care services to all applicants who meet the eligibility requirements set forth in the policy. If it is necessary to limit participation to stay within the amounts appropriated or resources available to the Department for childcare services, participation will be limited to priority service groups specified by IDHS. 

How long can I continue to receive child care assistance?

There is no time limit. As long as you are eligible, need child care to work or participate in an approved activity, your child(ren) continues to attend the approved provider, and the age of the child(ren) is consistent with program guidelines, you remain eligible. Your Approval Letter will list the first and last months that you are eligible for assistance. Before your approval period ends, you will have to renew your child car by filling out a “redetermination” form. This form will be automatically mailed to you. If you don’t return your redetermination form and all required documents or if you no longer meet the eligibility guidelines of the program, your case will be canceled.

Will my information be verified?

Yes. Information submitted by the parent/guardian on the application and supporting documentation is verified through various agencies' databases and Internet websites. Information from these databases and websites will be taken into consideration when determining eligibility.

When should I send my child to their child care provider and when should the child care provider start?

Children should not attend child care prior to the approval notice unless the parent and the provider have a payment agreement plan in place until the approval/denial notice is received by both the parent and the provider. IDHS will not pay for any care provided before the case is approved.

What should I do if my circumstances change?

The parent or provider should inform SAL Child Care Connection when any of the following changes occur:

  • Change Providers
  • Change Address
  • Stop Working
  • Stop receiving TANF
  • Stop attending school or training
  • Have medical/maternity leave
  • Change family size
  • Change income
  • Change jobs
  • Have any other changes that may affect your eligibility

Failure to report any changes within 30 days may result in an overpayment which you will have to pay back and /or loss of child care benefits. If you stop working, you may be able to continue to receive a child care subsidy up to 90 days after the loss of your job while you look for work, if reported within 90 days.

Is it required that I provide my social security number?

Social Security Numbers are not required at this time for child care eligibility and eligibility will not be denied due to your failure to provide this information. Social Security Numbers are used to assemble research data sets that do not identify individuals and to verify income. Social Security Numbers will be disclosed for administrative purposes only and are confidential.

If I'm a client or child care provider and I move, will my mail and checks be forwarded?

No, all clients and providers must fill out and submit a client/provider address form within 10 days of relocating.

How can I verify employment if I am self-employed or cash-paid?

A copy of the most recent signed federal income tax return and all applicable schedules and attachments.  After April 15th of each year, only the tax return of the previous year is acceptable, if the tax return was submitted electronically, you must provide a copy of the receipt in the absence of a signature. If a tax return is not available, a monthly statement of earnings and expenses must be submitted until an income tax return is submitted.

If you are paid in cash, a payment verification letter is required from each individual who pays you in cash for performing a service.  You cannot write the letter yourself. It must be from the person who pays you.
All verifications must include the following information:

  • The name, address, and phone number of the individual completing the letter;
  • The type of work performed;
  • Who performed the work;
  • The date(s) the work was completed or if the activity is on-going;
  • The rate of pay; and
  • The employee’s schedule.  

If the expenses exceed the gross receipts, the self–employment income will be zero. Those additional expenses that exceed the gross receipts will not be subtracted from other earned or unearned income in the household. If the number of hours worked cannot be verified, the amount of child care services allowed shall not exceed the documented income divided by the current State minimum hourly wage.