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Jan 25, 2017

Q&A with Erin Alderman, Licensing and Placement Specialist, Bethany Christian Services of Michigan, Kalamazoo

Child care is a common need for working parents, and working foster parents are no exception. Assistance is available to help cover the cost, but there are other considerations you’ll want to think through when first setting up care. The following information and tips can help get you started.

Can working parents be foster parents?

Yes. The majority of families in my case load are working parents, either single parents with a full-time job or families where both parents work. Some families need after-school care and others need all-day care for young children who are not yet in school.

Do providers need any special training or licensing to serve children in foster care?

If the provider is licensed, they meet state guidelines to serve children in foster care. Home-based day care providers also qualify as long as they are licensed.

Are there stipends to pay for day care?

In Michigan, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) calls it Child Development and Care reimbursement. Foster parents in Michigan qualify for childcare assistance for any child you are fostering, regardless of your income. In Michigan, you can apply for assistance online through DHHS. Check with your local Bethany office to learn how to apply for assistance in other states.

DHHS assistance doesn’t begin until a specific child is placed in your home, and they pay the day care center directly. It can take up to 45 days for your application to be approved, but DHHS will reimburse your costs back to the date of your application.

When looking for child care, prior to placement, tell them when you anticipate the child will be in your home and the age range you’re licensed for. Some day care centers are familiar with DHHS processes and working with children in foster care. They may be willing to wait for payment until your DHHS assistance begins. Others will require you to pay up front and will reimburse you when they get paid.

There may be a difference in cost between what the day care center charges and the rate DHHS will pay. You would be responsible to pay that difference. Some centers that are particularly supportive of foster families will waive the difference and accept the DHHS rate.

Good to know:

  • You can only claim this benefit if you are working or going to school, and only for the hours you are employed in these activities.
  • You can claim this benefit if you work from home.
  • Families with parents on opposite shifts seem to have difficulty being approved for day care assistance. We have heard from families that did not qualify for the subsidy even in the case where one partner needs to be sleeping while the other is at work.
  • Your provider can only bill DHHS based on the number of hours your children attended the day care. If your child only attends day care five hours one day, DHS will only pay the approved rate times five hours. If your day care charges a daily rate, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for the remainder of the day.
  • DHHS will pay for sick days if you follow the day care’s absentee procedure.


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