2.3 Working Connections Child Care (WCCC)

Revised 6/30/2016

Legal References:

The Working Connections Child Care section includes:

  • 2.3.1 What is WCCC?
  • 2.3.2 Who is eligible for WCCC (and for how long)?
  • 2.3.3 Are Tribal families eligible for WCCC?
  • 2.3.4 What activities does WCCC cover?
  • 2.3.5 What is safe and affordable child care?
  • 2.3.6 What are the requirements for an in-home/relative child care provider?
  • 2.3.7 What are WCCC copayments?
  • 2.3.8 WCCC - Step-by-Step Guide

2.3.1 What is WCCC?

Working Connections Child Care, or WCCC, is a child care subsidy program that helps families with children pay for child care to find jobs, keep their jobs, and get better jobs. Because all WCCC clients help pay for the cost of their child care by making a monthly copayment, we refer to WCCC clients as "consumers".

2.3.2 Who is eligible for WCCC (and for how long)?

A family can get WCCC as long as they meet all of the program's eligibility requirements within 14 days of application (receipt of WCCC doesn't count toward the WorkFirst cash assistance five year time limit). The two main categories of WCCC-eligible families are:

  • WorkFirst cash assistance families: Parents who are DSHS or Tribal WorkFirst participants in approved WorkFirst activities, and parents waiting to enter an approved activity such as attending the new WorkFirst Orientation as a requirement of eligibility.
  • Non-WorkFirst families: Working families whose countable income is at or below 175% of the federal poverty guideline. The poverty guideline is adjusted for family size.

A WorkFirst Program Specialist or Social Service Specialist can give families who have questions and need WCCC coverage a copy of the flyer called General Information for WorkFirst Participants Needing Child Care Subsidy Assistance. For example, you may want to use the flyer when you complete or update an adult’s Individual Responsibility Plan. The flyer gives basic information about how to apply for childcare.

2.3.3 Are Tribal families eligible for WCCC?

Tribal families are unique because they may participate in either a DSHS WorkFirst or a Tribal WorkFirst program and may require child care in order to participate.

Tribal families continue to be unique because they have the benefit of "dual eligibility" for child care. This allows families to receive child care coverage from either the WCCC program or through their tribal organization. The WCCC program doesn't require the Tribal family be denied child care by the tribe before applying for WCCC. If a tribal family finds they aren't eligible through the WCCC program, they can still apply through the tribe.

Tribal families receiving WorkFirst cash assistance from a Tribal TANF Program look like non-WorkFirst cash assistance families but have the unearned income code of TT. The Tribal program will need to contact WCCC to verify participation within 14 days of application. Tribal families who receive only food and/or medical benefits can be considered a Non-WorkFirst cash assistance recipient for WCCC purposes.

2.3.4 What activities does WCCC cover?

WCCC can subsidize child care needed during the hours a consumer is working, in an approved training plan or engaged in other types of approved WorkFirst activities, or waiting to enter an approved activity such as completing WorkFirst Orientation as a requirement of WorkFirst cash eligibility.

A WorkFirst parent can be authorized for WCCC when they apply for TANF and/or begin participating in an approved WorkFirst activity.  Child care will be terminated if the parent isn't placed in an approved WorkFirst activity within 14 days of application. 

2.3.5 What is safe and affordable child care?

WCCC consumers can choose to use licensed/certified family child care homes and child care centers. Consumers may also use what we call "in-home/relative" providers. An in-home/relative provider must be:

  • An adult chosen by the WCCC consumer to provide child care in the consumer's own home, or
  • A certain category of adult relative the consumer chooses to provide child care in either the consumer's or the relative's home.

It is very important to ensure that WorkFirst parents have safe and affordable child care (for their children under 13 years old) while they participate in work or other IRP activities. If a parent does not have adequate child care, we refer them to the WCCC worker for help.

We never require WorkFirst parents to participate in WorkFirst activities until they locate child care (for their children under 13 years) that is:

  • Affordable (doesn't cost more than the copayment would under the WCCC program);
  • Appropriate (licensed, certified, or approved under federal, state, or tribal law and regulations for the type of care they use and that they were able to choose, within locally available options, who would provide it); and
  • Within a reasonable distance (within reach without traveling farther than is expected in their community).

Parents who have children (0-18 years old) with special needs may have additional difficulties finding safe and affordable care. WCCC offers these families additional resources in the form of:

  • A special needs rate to providers, and
  • Referrals to Public Health Nurses for assessment of the child. The assessment determines how the child's needs impact the parent's ability to participate in WorkFirst activities (See the link to the PHN Referral Form in the Resource section below.)

2.3.6 What are the requirement for in-home/relative childcare provider?

Parents applying to use an in-home/relative care provider may need to wait to receive required background check results. The WCCC program does not pay for in-home/relative child care provided before all applicable background check results are received. This policy is designed to protect the health and safety of children.

When establishing participation requirements for parents who are waiting for in-home child care approval, DSHS staff has the following options:

  • Under parental choice, a parent can decide to use an unapproved in-home/relative provider, but you must document clearly in the case record that they understand the department will not pay for these services.
  • The parent can be required to look for appropriate, alternative child care to be used until an in-home provider is approved for payment. The following situations are considered inappropriate for short-term, temporary child care, and would, therefore allow the parent to wait for in-home coverage before they participate:
    • Care is needed for a child under one year old;
    • Care is needed for multiple children and can only be provided by multiple child care providers;
    • The parent can demonstrate that the child cannot function outside of her or his home environment; or,
    • An exception to rule is approved for other situations, not covered above, that pose an unusual and significant risk to the family from using available child care.

You may want to refer the parent to your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency to get help finding licensed child care. The CCR&R can be reached at 1-800-446-1114.

Describe the circumstances in the parent's case notes if the parent will not be required to seek child care while an in-home/relative care request is pending. Refer to Participation While Resolving Issues section for the procedures to monitor the case while no child care is available.

2.3.7 What are WCCC copayments?

As we said earlier, a parent's monthly contribution toward the cost of child care is called a copayment. The copayment is based on family size and countable income in relation to 175% of the federal poverty guidelines.

There are three copayment "levels". If the family's countable income is:

  • At or below 82% FPL.
  • Between 83% and 137.5% FPL.
  • From 137.6% FPL to 175% FPL.

For additional information about copayments, please refer to the Working Connections Child Care Manual, Copayments chapter.

2.3.8 WCCC - Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Consumers can contact the CSO directly for child care services.
  2. The WFPS ensures parents are participating in an approved WorkFirst activity that and refers them to WCCC authorizing workers.

Note:  There may be cases where the parent has already applied for WCCC at application.  WCCC is approved initially for the parent to complete all TANF eligibility requirements and must be in an approved WorkFirst activity within 14 days of application to continue receiving WCCC without breaking the continuity of care.

  1. The WCCC authorizing workers will:
    1. Help the consumer find safe, affordable and appropriate child care, as needed.
    2. Confirm the consumer is in an approved activity plan, as necessary.
    3. Monitor use of child care and make all appropriate child care payments to the child care provider.

Note: More detailed information about the WCCC Program can be found in the resource section below.


Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources