Rhode Island Department of Human Services
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Child Care Assistance

The Department of Human Services supports low-income working families by providing access to affordable, high-quality early care and afterschool programs. As the principle agency responsible for the planning and coordination of child care in Rhode Island, DHS administers the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), offering child care subsidies to support children and their families struggling to find child care programs that will fit their needs and that will prepare children to succeed in school and in life. (See Child Care Assistance Program below)

DHS also works to improve the quality of child care by supporting children's healthy development and learning, providing resources to help programs assess and improve quality, and assisting the child care workforce in attaining more training and education. (See Quality Initiatives below)

Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)

Child Care Assistance is available to families who meet income guidelines and are working a minimum of 20 hours per week at or above Rhode Island’s minimum wage. Child Care assistance is also available to families participating in the RI Works program.

The CCAP will help pay child care costs to providers who meet certain criteria.  The family may be required to make a co-payment based on the household income and family size.  

Starting October 1, 2013, families that are deemed eligible under the Traditional CCAP income guidelines (180% FPL) will be allowed to maintain eligibility as their income increases (up to 225% FPL) under the Transitional Child Care Pilot Program.  This allows working families to improve their economic situation without losing access to child care subsidies.  The Transitional Child Care Pilot Program is currently set to expire on September 30, 2016.  

How to Apply

To apply for Child Care Assistance, please submit a complete application and required documentation.
        Child Care Assistance Application and Instructions

The Department has up to 30 days to review and make a decision on your application.  DHS does not cover the cost of child care if your application is ultimately denied.  To get a decision as soon as possible, please by sure to submit all required documents with your application.  Missing information will delay the processing of your application.

For more information or to request an application for the DHS Child Care Assistance Program, please call the DHS Info Line at (401) 462-5300.

Choosing a Child Care Provider 

Parents can select the child care provider of their choice and, if necessary may use more than one provider to meet their child care needs so long as their hours do not overlap. Options for child care include:

  • a DCYF licensed child care center or before/after-school program; 
  • a DCYF licensed family child care home; 
  • a licensed exempt provider (such as a family member) that has received approval from DHS 

For information on choosing a quality care for your child, or for a list of licensed child care providers near your home or work, please call BrightStars toll free at 1-855-398-7605 or go to BrightStars.

For more information on becoming a CCAP Approved Provider, please call the Office of Child Care at (401) 462-6877.

Quality Initiatives
DHS funds a variety of initiatives to support child care programs serving low income families in providing high quality care.

  • BrightStars is the statewide quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for state licensed childcare centers, family child care homes, public preschools, and school age programs in RI.  BrightStars helps programs to assess and improve quality, and also helps parents choose quality in child care programs.
  • The Early Childhood Education and Training Program at CCRI provides an intensive professional development and training program that strengthens the capacity of both seasoned and novice child care staff through supportive coaching, supervised work experience and formal academic course work.  For information, contact Lynn Turdel at (401) 455-6128 or ltrudel@ccri.edu.
  • The newly launched offers professional development, technical assistance, and financial resources to strengthen the early childhood workforce and support early childhood program in improving quality.
  • The Child Care Facilities Fund provides low interest capital, technical assistance, and training to licensed child care providers to increase the supply of high quality child care in Rhode Island.
  • The RI Early Learning and Development Standards provide guidance on young children's learning and continuous growth from birth through Kindergarten entry, and professional development opportunities to support early care and education professionals in creating standards-based programs for young children.
  • Child Care Health Consultation assists child care programs in recognizing and promoting the health and safety of children, families, and staff by employing specially-trained health and early childhood professionals to offer consultation, technical assistance, and training.
  • Children's healthy development and learning is strengthened through DCYF Child Care Licensing Unit Support, providing for the effective implementation of inspection and licensing of RI child care programs, and seamless communication between the DCYF Unit and DHS' Office of Child Care.

Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge

Exceed                    Exceed Search

The Race to the Top Rhode Island Early Learning Challenge Grant initiative is now called Exceed.  It publicly conveys the State's commitment to designing and implementing an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services that improve outcomes of young children.  The power in the name Exceed is that in one word it conveys the goal that all the statewide partners have for the children in Rhode Island.  Exceed supports the children of Rhode Island to achieve new heights in their learning.  The partners are committed to helping all children to Exceed.

The Department of Human Services is one of the partnering agencies supporting the Grant through the implementation of the following activities:

  • Working with partner agencies to align all the State's Program Standards to create a unified definition of quality and a common quality improvement pathway.
  • Buliding the capacity of BrightStars to measure and monitor the quality of all early learning and development programs.
  • Validating the effectiveness of the BrightStars system on improving child outcomes
  • Collecting and publicly reporting aggregated data on the early childhood workforce
  • Working with partner agencies to define the essential skills and knowledge that early childhood professionals need to know, understand, and be able to do.
  • Increasing the availability and accessibility of high quality professional development opportunities.
  • Expanding access to higher education to support professional improvement of the early childhood workforce.
  • Creating a package of financial incentives and technical assistance opportunities to assist programs in achieving and maintaining quality.
  • Working with partner agencies to develop a statewide early childhood data system that has the ability to track information specific to Programs, Professionals in the Workforce, and Children.

Check out Exceed's website, search for an early learning program, and sign up to receive the Exceed Enews!