Through legislation passed last fall, additional Santa Clara County children and families have access to affordable childcare. AB 2368, authored by Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D- Menlo Park), authorized the Individualized County Childcare Subsidy Plan which waives certain state rules and allows Santa Clara County to determine county-specific family eligibility criteria, family fees, reimbursement rates, and methods of maximizing the efficient use of subsidies instead of relying on state rates and criteria.
Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent of Schools for the Santa Clara County Office of Education said, "Our priority is to increase access to high quality preschool and childcare for low-income children and their families. Raising the monthly and annual income thresholds for families ensures that more families can attend."
In Santa Clara County, a family of four with a monthly maximum income of
$5,922 and a maximum annual income of
$71,064 now qualifies. Previously, State Median Income figures were used of a maximum monthly income of $4,877 and an annual income of $58,524 for a family of four. Children who qualify must be at least 2 years, 9 months old through 4 years old.
For Fiscal Year 2017–18, contractors must use the following table when determining ongoing income eligibility at recertification.
Santa Clara County returned approximately $9.3 million to the state in unused state subsidized child care contracts, for fiscal year 2014-15, according to the Santa Clara County's Local Early Education Planning Council. This roughly translates to 1,100 children who could have been served in the county if the flexibility in AB 2368 were in place.
The pilot program for Santa Clara County is modeled on similar individualized subsidy pilot plans in San Mateo, San Francisco, and Alameda counties that were proven effective in meeting local conditions and then made permanent. To promote consistency and collaboration across the region, all counties have agreed to use the same pilot handbook and forms among childcare and early learning providers.
"We are extremely fortunate to learn from our Bay Area counterparts," commented Michael Garcia, SCCOE Local Early Education Planning Council. "Regular meetings are held to share information and leverage resources. We recently provided a 'Pilot Eligibility and Enrollment' training for all staff is all four counties and will continue to do so on an annual basis.
Through the careful development of the Individualized County Childcare Subsidy Plan, Santa Clara County aims to address major challenges in the child care subsidy system to better meet needs and priorities of families and childcare contractors in the County.