Child Care Subsidy

Child Care Subsidy Program

The Child Care Subsidy (CSS) Program helps low-income families pay for child care while parents work, attend school, or participate in job training programs. The Child Care Subsidy Program offers a subsidy for care provided by regulated child care centers and family child care providers participating in the Maryland EXCELS program, or care provided in informal care settings. Informal care is defined as care by a relative in the child’s home or in the relative’s home, care by a non-relative in the child’s home, or care provided by a non-relative in their own home for less than 20 hours per month.

Families receive a voucher for each child needing care. A sliding scale based on household income is used to determine the amount of the voucher and the amount of the co-payment, which the families must pay. The amount of the voucher will also vary based on the amount of care that is needed and the age of the child. Parents purchase care directly from providers. Payment to the provider includes three parts: the CCS voucher, the parent’s co-payment, and any additional payment necessary to cover the full cost of care. Vouchers and co-payments do not always add up to the full amount charged by the provider. Parents who are not Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) customers obtain CCS vouchers through a centralized vendor — Child Care Subsidy Central (CCS Central) at 1.866.243.8796. Parents receiving TCA may apply for a voucher at their DSS office. The voucher will indicate the subsidy amount paid by the State to the provider. The co-payment and any additional amount owed must be paid to the child care provider by the parent.

Child care providers are not legally required to accept CCS vouchers. If a provider decides to accept CCS vouchers, he or she can accept the combined amount of the voucher and co-payment. If the provider’s regular rate is higher than the combined amount of the voucher and co-payment, parents can be asked to make up the difference. However, providers may not charge CCS clients more than they charge non-CCS clients. Many providers find it difficult to collect any additional payment from low-income families served by CCS.

Providers and parents review, complete, and sign the voucher. Providers must return the completed voucher to CCS Central. Providers complete a monthly invoice for families receiving CCS vouchers. Invoices should be submitted to CCS Central. Providers will be paid bi-weekly.

For instructions on how to assist a parent in applying for the Child Care Subsidy program, go to the CCS For Parents page. Click here for additional information about CCS reimbursement rates—which vary by region of the state, age of the child (under age 2, or aged 2 and over), number children in the family needing care, and the amount of care needed.

A Note to Informal Providers

In order to participate in the CCS program, you and all adult residents of your home must have a fingerprint-supported state and federal criminal background check. Additional requirements based on the 2016 federal regulations under the Child Care and Development Fund will be put in place in the coming year, including mandatory monitoring inspections and basic health and safety training.