Frequently Asked Questions for Parents

Families that are eligible for child care assistance through the Best Beginnings Scholarship are obligated to pay a portion of their children’s monthly child care costs. The co-pay is determined by where the family is on the federal poverty guidelines.

Failure to pay the pre-determined co-payment amount will result in the loss of the family’s eligibility for child care assistance. Providers may set rates independent of the state district child care provider rates. A family is responsible for any amount over and above the state district child care rates and/or any additional fees assessed by the provider.

Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship applications are accepted at any time. Applications can be accepted within 30 days of the need for child care. A parent’s eligibility is approved for a set period of time and they are responsible for getting their scholarships re-certified periodically. Failure to re-certify for scholarship eligibility by the 10th of the month in which the scholarship expires may result in a gap in child care assistance.
Complaints about child care providers should be directed to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services Quality Assurance Division (QAD) at 406.444.1742 or you may fill out a complaint form online.
Federal regulations guarantee the right of parental choice in selecting child care. As a result, parents may choose a friend or family member to provide child care and receive state payment. These individuals are known as Legally Certified Providers. Legally Certified Providers must apply with Child Care Resources to become legal and, if approved, the date their application is received by CCR is the date they can begin care. There are two situations in which a Legally Certified Provider can participate in the State of Montana child care assistance program.

In the provider’s home (LCP) – The provider provides child care within the provider’s own home for two or fewer children from different families, or all the children of one family. The provider receives the child care assistance payment from the state after a monthly invoice is submitted to the Child Care Resource & Referral agency.

In the child’s home (LCI) – The provider cares for children in the parent’s home. The parent receives the child care assistance payment from the State after the invoice is submitted to the Child Care Resource & Referral Agency. The parent must pay their provider in accordance with applicable labor laws.

Infant care is generally more expensive than preschooler care because of the reduced caregiver to children ratio allowed by regulations, and the additional time required to provide quality care to each infant. More time is required to feed infants, change their diapers and spend time rocking and cuddling them one-on-one than for older children.
Ideally, parents should administer all medications to their own child. However, because many children spend the majority of their waking hours in a child care setting, it is in the children’s best interest that child care providers are allowed to occasionally give medication. To reduce the risk of harm to children and liability to providers, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services’ Child Care Licensing Division has released state-wide Revised Regulations for the administration of medication in child care centers or group and family child care homes, effective in June 2006.
Families with children under the age of 17 may be eligible for the Federal Child Tax Credit (CTC), which can be worth hundreds of dollars per child. The income limit for the CTC is much higher than for the Earned Income Credit (EIC).

If a family qualifies for the Earned Income Credit (EIC), they can receive an advance payment of up to $125 per month and still get a tax refund at the end of the year. Families on the waiting list for child care services are most likely eligible for EIC. The EIC advance payment can be used to assist with child care expenses while waiting to be served. The forms for EIC are available at Child Care Resources.

If a parent currently receives the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship, their case is approved through a Child Care Service Plan with an existing licensed or registered provider. If a parent wishes to change to a new provider, they must notify their current provider of the change, then notify CCR prior to or within one business day of the change. A new Child Care Service Plan must be completed with the new child care provider. Assistance will not be paid to the new provider until a new plan is completed.
There are several high quality after school and summer programs such as YMCA and Campfire which can receive Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship payments. Contact Family Services for assistance with locating these programs.
We can give you information about what to look for and some questions to ask. However, families have their own preferences. Some children do well in one program while another child does not. This doesn’t mean the program is bad, but it does mean it’s not the right fit for a particular child. We strongly advise parents to visit programs under consideration and to look at the licensing record of a program before making a decision.
With a little information from you, CCR can give you a list of a few programs that have vacancies that match your needs. We can’t give you a list of all of the programs in town. Lots of programs don’t serve infants, don’t have any openings, or don’t accept the scholarship rates, so knowing all of them is not likely to be as helpful as having a shorter list. If these programs don’t work out, contact us and we’ll look for some more matches. If you really want the whole list, has most, not all of them.