Child Care Guide Part I: Paying For Child Care in Washington, D.C.

This blog is by Jacquisha Cardwell. Jacquisha is a third-year law student at the Catholic University of America in DC, and will graduate in May with a JD and a certificate in Law and Public Policy. She is interning with DC Action for the remainder of the spring. Welcome, Jacquisha!

The process of finding high-quality, low-cost child care for young children in DC can be daunting. Child care options are often expensive and children from families with low incomes are less likely to receive high-quality, low-cost child care services, as we outlined in a recent data snapshot.

In Part I of this guide, we provide information about how to obtain the child care subsidy in D.C.  In Part II, we discuss child care options available to DC families and provide resources for navigating this system. 

There is a child care subsidy program in DC that provides cost assistance to families for child care; families eligible for the subsidy receive a voucher to use at the child care center or home of their choice among providers licensed to accept the vouchers. The amount of the subsidy provided depends on factors including family size, income and the number of children in care; families eligible for the subsidy pay on a sliding scale.

Families eligible for discounted or free child care through the child care voucher program include:

  • TANF(Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients who participate in education and training as outlined in their IRP (Individual Responsibility Plan)
  • Teen parents seeking their high school diplomas or equivalent (GED)
  • Families not receiving TANF who are pursuing additional education to improve job opportunities
  • More eligibility guidelines are available here

Families interested in applying for child care subsidies should contact the Department of Human Services’ Child Care Services Division. Some may also qualify for benefits like TANF and can apply for multiple benefits at the same time using the Combined Application for Benefits .

The Department of Human Services accepts appointments and walk-ins. To make an appointment, call (202) 727-0284; walk-in hours are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and occur on a “first come, first served” basis at the Child Care Services Division.

Once families receive vouchers, they still need to choose which child care facility to send their children. Additionally, for those who do not fit the eligibility requirements for the child care subsidy, there are still affordable options available.  Please see Part II of this guide, which contains resources to find child care options that fit a variety of cost and childcare needs.

For additional help determining child care subsidy eligibility, contact the DC Child Care Connections Resource and Referral Center at (202) 862-1111 or visit them at CentroNia 1420 Columbia Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20009. 

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