Child Care Management Services in Texas
The federal government has created a panoply of new programs to help low-income parents pay for child care.
The multiplicity of programs, however, often frustrates the very people the system was designed to help. Typically, parents must fill out separate applications and follow different eligibility rules and regulations for each program. This hodgepodge poses a growing problem for state governments, too, as they try to administer the complex web of federal childcare supports.
Texas Child Care Management Services (CCMS) has overcome these difficulties by creating a one-stop shop for child-care services provided under eight programs serving more than 20 client groups. Developed and administered by the Texas Department of Human Services, CCMS coordinates all the major sources of state and federal funds for child care in Texas. The program has become a model of service coordination.
A guiding principle of CCMS is that parents should have maximum choice in selecting the best care for their children. Under the system, parents may choose any licensed or registered child-care provider they desire. Parents may also opt to have a child's grand-parent, aunt, or uncle provide the care. Because the system is highly automated, parents can access eight different funding sources and receive information about various child-care options by completing a single application, which may be submitted by mail or telephone.
The Department of Human Services administers the system through contracts with 27 community organizations across the state, each serving a specific geographic area. All are supported by a comprehensive automation system. Following uniform state guidelines and procedures, the community organizations contract with child-care vendors in their regions, determine eligibility, manage standardized billing and payment, and assist parents in locating and enrolling their children in certified child-care programs.
Any child-care provider who complies with state licensing standards and carries liability insurance may participate as a vendor. CCMS reduces the paperwork burden of doing business with the government and offers timelier payments. The program has been especially welcomed by parents and child-care providers who previously had no opportunity to receive government funding.
Texas state officials say that CCMS, which was introduced in 1991, has enabled them to make efficient use of increased federal child-care funds. Since CCMS began, the number of children served per day has risen from 26,000 to 54,000, and the number of CCMS child-care providers has more than doubled, from 2,000 to 4,207.