The recent passage of the 2017-18 state budget included a victory for those who have advocated for a change to the income eligibility requirements for subsidized child care.

The hard-fought change will allow more low-income families access to the subsidy. The new budget will require the California Department of Finance to calculate income eligibility for subsidized child care based on the most recent state median income information, and will be required to adjust that number based on family size.

Currently, families are only eligible for the state child care subsidy if total family income does not exceed a certain percentage of the state median income. However, California has failed to increased its median income eligibility limit for ten years. The last adjustment occurred in fiscal year 2007-08.

Another important change that will impact families who qualify for this program was approved by the legislature in May. Advocates called for a continuous 12-month eligibility period, which would prevent parents whose income increased from having to reapply within the same year and risk losing access to child care benefits.

Previous to this change, families were required to report any changes in income within five days and provide documentation to reflect those changes. In some cases, families lost eligibility when a parent got a higher paying job or received a raise. Under the new budget, once a family meets all the eligibility requirements and is approved for subsidized child care, it is guaranteed for that entire year.