Oklahoma City—The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has announced that the enrollment freeze for the Child Care Subsidy program will end July 31, 2016. This means the assistance with child care can be approved for eligible families beginning August 1, 2016, in time for the start of the school year and for kids who are attending after-school child care programs.
DHS had planned to lift the freeze Aug. 15, but with some school districts starting the new school year earlier in August DHS Director Ed Lake made the decision to open enrollment earlier. The Child Care subsidy is funded through a combination of a federal Child Care Development grant and state-matching funds.
“Child care assistance is one of the core services of DHS and it was so disheartening for us to have to freeze access to this critical program. After the second revenue failure, we knew we would run out of funds before the end of the fiscal year June 30 if we didn’t limit the number of people accessing those services,” said Lake. “Through natural attrition of recipients dropping out of the program in June and July and not filling those slots, we have accumulated enough savings to begin taking applications again and feel reasonably sure there will be enough funds to sustain the normal ebb and flow of the program throughout next year—barring any future or unforeseen reductions to DHS funding.”
DHS will begin accepting new applications on July 1, but families should not expect for the assistance to begin until August 1. Due to a reduced workforce at DHS, the agency estimates it will take about a month to process and approve the expected flood of new applicants.
To qualify for this assistance, applicants must be working or enrolled in school or training. An initial interview and proof of employment or enrollment in school are required before eligibility can be established. As in the past, applications can be made at any local county DHS office. In addition, families who have received assistance from DHS before can apply online at www.okdhslive.org .
Letters will be sent next week to all applicants who were denied due to the enrollment freeze informing them that they may reapply if subsidized child care is still needed.