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Child Care

CalWORKs Child Care Program

  • The availablity of quality child care is essential to the success of CalWORKs. To ensure an adequate supply of child care resources to recipients and those transitioning off welfare to work, AB 1542 eliminated seven former welfare related childcare programs and consolidated them into the three-stage CalWorks childcare programs.
  • The purpose of this program is to help a family transition smoothly from the immediate, short-term child care needed as the parent starts work or work activities to the stable, long-term child care necessary for the family to leave and remain off aid.
  • The CalWORKs Child Care Program is administered in three stages. Stage One is administered by the county welfare departments. Stages Two and Three are administered by Alternative Payment Program (APP) agencies under contract with the California Department of Education (CDE).
  • The three stages of CalWORKs child care are defined as follows:
    • Stage One begins with a family's entry into the CalWORKs program. Clients leave Stage One after six months or when their situation is stable, and when there is a slot available in Stage Two or Three.
    • Stage Two begins after six months or after a recipient's work or work activity has stablilized, or when the family is transitioning off of aid. Clients may continue to receive child care in Stage Two up to two years after they are no longer eligible for aid.
    • Stage Three begins when a funded space is available and when the client has acquired the 24 months of child care, after transitioning off of aid (for former CalWORKs recipients).

For Whom

If the persons are receiving CalWORKs cash aid and are in one of the following situations, they could be eligible for child care benefits:

  1. They are attending a county welfare department-approved education or training program;
  2. They are working.
  3. They are teens participating in Cal-Learn;
  4. They choose to refuse a cash aid payment and accept diversion services; or
  5. They have been receiving cash assistance and have transitioned off, but need child care to retain employment.

There are other requirements that must be met. Child care providers must meet certain conditions or requirements in order to receive payment for their services. Participants will be asked to verify employment, child care costs, and hours and dates of employment or educational/training activities. There are certain age limits for children.

Where to Get Help

There are welfare offices located in each of the 58 California counties. People needing child care services at any office located in the county where they live. To find a nearby office, contact the county welfare department listed under the County Government Section in the telephone book.

If the person needing child care has already applied for and is receiving CalWORKs case assistance, contact the eligibility worker, or the Welfare to Work or Cal-Learn worker as appropriate.

If the person is not receiving cash assistance, he or she should contact the local child care Resource and Referral Agency to obtain information


The Child Care Resource and Referral list is a directory of contact information for each county community organization that provides child care resources. The Resource and Referral program agencies provide information to parents and the community, about the availability of child care in their county, assist potential providers in the licensing process, and provide support services, including training. The legislative intent of the child care program includes connecting recipients as soon as possible to local child care resources, making stable child care arrangements, ensuring recipients continue to receive subsidized services after they leave aid, and ensuring that services are received in the same fashion as other low-income working families. This directory is an important resource for effectuating those goals. 


TrustLine is a California’s registry of license-exempt child care providers who have been through a criminal background screening and clearance process. The CDSS TrustLine Web-based Application (TWA) system provides the County Welfare Departments and authorized users such as local Alternative Payment Programs and Resource and Referral programs the ability to enter applications online for applicants who want to become a TrustLine-registered child care provider.

For more information on the CDSS TWA system, check out the Frequently Asked Questions

See the Trustline web page if you would like more information on the following:

  • Benefits of TrustLine
  • TrustLine is a registry that…
  • Visit the TrustLine website
  • TWA Training Webinar Video - This webinar is for those who will be using the TWA system.
  • TWA Reimbursement Options

State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care

The California State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care (SAC) is a governor-appointed leadership body that ensures statewide collaboration among early childhood programs that will help to define future policy for children birth to kindergarten. The SAC will make recommendations on the future policy direction for early learning and related services for young children in California.

For more information, meeting dates and materials on this council, please click on the hyperlink below:

Next meeting date: April 27, 2016

There is a membership vacancy for the SAC. If you are interested, view the membership appointment process .


The CDSS is collaborating with the California Department of Education to conduct a Subsidized Child Care and Development Characteristics Study. The purpose of the Subsidized Child Care and Development Characteristics Study is to generate data from the state’s subsidized child care programs regarding the characteristics of providers of these services and children and families receiving these services. The data collected will inform decision makers on how to improve child care services for families in need.

To assist in the development of the study, a Key Informants Stakeholder group was established. Key Informants will receive information regarding the progress of the study and may be called upon to provide input.

If you would like to be included as a Key Informant, please email your request with contact information to CDSSChildCareStudy@dss.ca.gov .

For more information, please click on the hyperlink below.