Child Care Eligibility by Permanency Outcome

A child is in out-of-home care (with either a foster parent, non-relative or relative caregiver), under protective supervision of Eckerd and with an open court case. While in out-of-home care, that child is found eligible for School Readiness/Head Start/Early Head Start/Eckerd Early Head Start and is enrolled.

What happens to their eligibility if:

The child is reunified with their biological parent, but the case is still open with Eckerd and the court?

School Readiness

The child remains eligible for School Readiness under the “at risk” eligibility category, so long as the parent can prove a purpose of care (employed, involved in an educational activity, or disabled). The parent need not meet income-eligibility guidelines while the case is open, as only the child’s income is considered. If the reunified parent does not have a purpose of care, they can continue to receive School Readiness for up to three months, but then would no longer be eligible. The parent fee the reunified parent will pay is based on the parent’s income and size of the household.

BOCC/HCPS Head Start/Early Head Start

The reunified parent must apply for Head Start/Early Head Start for the child. They must meet criteria (see form at end):

  • BOCC programs require: work 20 hours/week, job training or in school full time
  • HCPS programs do not require the parent to work or be in school or job training.

TIP: If CM is aware reunification is pending, advise the parent to contact child’s current Head Start/EHS center and begin working with the Head Start case manager for a smooth transition, to determine eligibility, and to consider transfer to a more convenient Head Start location.

Eckerd Early Head Start

If the child is enrolled in Eckerd EHS, they remain eligible once reunified with their parent.

The child has been successfully reunified with their biological parent for six months, and the case closes with Eckerd and with the court?

School Readiness

If the child care referral is renewed by the CM before the end of the case, the child remains eligible for School Readiness under the “at-risk” eligibility category for the next 12 months.

If the child care referral is not renewed before the end of the case or if the parent reaches the end of the 12 months of “at-risk” eligibility, the child remains eligible if the parent continues to have a purpose of care (working, involved in educational activity, or disabled) and meets income eligibility guidelines based on income and household (must be at 85% SMI on attached Sliding Fee Schedule). At this point, the parent will roll over into the income-eligible category. The parent fee the reunified parent will pay is based on the parent’s income and size of the household.

TIP: Parents should always timely recertify with School Readiness so as not to lose it. When it is time to recertify, the parent, child care provider, and Eckerd (while the case is still open) are notified.

BOCC/HCPS Head Start/Early Head Start

The reunified parent must apply for Head Start/Early Head Start for the child. They must meet criteria (see form at end):

  • BOCC programs require: work 20 hours/week, job training or in school full time
  • HCPS programs do not require the parent to work or be in school or job training.

TIP: If CM is aware reunification is pending, advise the parent to contact child’s current Head Start/EHS center and begin working with the Head Start case manager for a smooth transition, to determine eligibility, and to consider transfer to a more convenient Head Start location.

Eckerd Early Head Start

If the child is enrolled in Eckerd EHS, they remain eligible for the program even after the court terminates protective supervision and jurisdiction.

The child is adopted and the case closes with Eckerd and the court?

School Readiness

Case closes with Eckerd and the court? In order to remain eligible, the adoptive parent would need a purpose of care (employed, involved in an educational activity, or disabled) and meet income-eligibility guidelines based on income and household (must be at 85% SMI on attached Sliding Fee Schedule). The parent fee the adoptive parent will pay is based on their income and size of the household.

BOCC/HCPS Head Start/Early Head Start

The child will continue to meet criteria for the remainder of the program year as the child was previously enrolled as a “foster child”. The following program year the adoptive parent will need to re-apply as the child had a status change and is no longer a “foster child”. The child is now the legal child of the adoptive parent and the adoptive parent will need to meet the income and work/school requirements.

Eckerd Early Head Start

If the child is enrolled in Eckerd EHS, they remain eligible after adoption.

The child is placed in a permanent guardianship with a relative or non-relative and the case closes with Eckerd, but the court retains jurisdiction?

School Readiness

In order to remain eligible, the permanent guardian would need a purpose of care (employed, involved in an educational activity, or disabled) and meet income-eligibility guidelines based on income and household (must be at 85% SMI on attached Sliding Fee Schedule). The parent fee the permanent guardian will pay is based on their income and size of the household.

BOCC/HCPS Head Start/Early Head Start

The child will continue to be considered as out of home care (caregiver will need to provide the court paperwork that shows child was placed thru DCF/Eckerd) and eligible for the program.

Eckerd Early Head Start

If the child is enrolled in Eckerd EHS, they remain eligible after being placed in a permanent guardianship.

For each program, are there eligibility charts that would help predict whether ongoing eligibility will be found?

School Readiness

See attached Florida’s Office of Early Learning Sliding Fee Schedule (as of July 1, 2017) and School Readiness Program.

BOCC/HCPS Head Start/Early Head Start

There are no charts for ongoing eligibility, other than the poverty guidelines that change each year. The income guidelines do not apply to “foster care children/out of home care”. See attached chart of Program Requirements and Qualifications.

Eckerd Early Head Start

No chart, but the following from the federal standards: Head Start Program Performance Standards 1302.12 Determining, verifying, and documenting eligibility.

(j) Eligibility duration.

(1) If a child is determined eligible under this section and is participating in a Head Start program, he or she will remain eligible through the end of the succeeding program year except that the Head Start program may choose not to enroll a child when there are compelling reasons for the child not to remain in Head Start, such as when there is a change in the child's family income and there is a child with a greater need for Head Start services.

(2) Children who are enrolled in a program receiving funds under the authority of section 645A of the Act remain eligible while they participate in the program.

Still have questions?

If you live or have a case in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas or Sarasota counties, we may be able to help.

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