By Laura H. King-HurstThe United States Department of Education has just released a new definition of a child care program that includes a number of different types of childcare services.

Some of the most important features of a program are: providing child care for eligible persons who are not currently enrolled in a public or private child care facility, receiving a qualified applicant’s child care services fee, paying a qualified employee, and paying for child care facilities and services.

The definition also includes a parent who has been issued a qualifying child care plan by the Department and who is entitled to use any childcare services provided.

This definition is a great first step in clarifying what a child-care program is and what it entails.

However, it is important to understand what this definition does not cover. 

The definition does NOT include:A program that provides childcare for individuals whose parents have received a qualifying or nonqualifying child care plans, but do not have a qualifying parent, or a program that receives a qualified individual to provide childcare to eligible persons.

The following are the exceptions that are covered by the definition.

The exceptions apply to programs that are not eligible for the exceptions and to programs with which the Department does not have an arrangement or relationship.

The definition also covers programs that meet certain requirements. 

For example, a program providing childcare for eligible individuals who are currently enrolled as a child in a private child- care facility (or a parent-to-child care program) is not a child school program.

Similarly, a child day care program is not an eligible program. 

However, some programs are not covered by this definition because they are not “qualified” or meet certain criteria. 

These programs are: An agency-operated or privately operated child care center, including a group home, day-care center, daycare-like program, or other program designed to provide a safe, caring, and nurturing environment for children from birth to age 6. 

An organization that has an existing agreement with a state, local, or tribal government, which would allow it to receive payments under a qualified child care or child-safety program.

This agreement must meet the following criteria: The agreement must be based on a partnership between the organization and the state, county, or municipal government and the child care agency or child safety agency. 

A non-profit organization that is providing care to eligible children as a partnership or joint effort with a qualified or non-qualifying provider. 

In the case of a non-qualified child care provider, this means that the provider is a nonprofit organization, including but not limited to a church, church-run religious institution, or faith-based organization.

A nonprofit organization providing care for children under age 18 and is licensed to do so under state law. 

Other child care providers may also qualify, such as private day care centers and other child care programs. 

It is important for families to understand that these programs are considered qualified if the non-participating non-profits meet all of the following requirements: (1) the nonparticipating provider has been accredited by the state and has been licensed for a period of at least 3 years; (2) the program meets the criteria set forth in the section of the definition that deals with the program; and (3) the participating non-federal non-government non-health care entity has been certified by the State Department of Health Services as an eligible non-private child care organization. 

Some of these non-nonprofits are also licensed to provide child care to children who have not been enrolled in the program for a continuous period of time. 

To learn more about the types of child care available, including eligibility requirements, check out the Department of Labor’s Child Care Guide.

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