December 29, 2021

CCW Enhancements to Lower Family Copays and Increase Provider Base Rates

On October 18, 2021, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced changes to Child Care Works (CCW), Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program, that will decrease costs to families who qualify for subsidized care and add incentives for child care providers to participate in the program.

This article was updated on December 29, 2021, to reflect a new effective date for copays.

CCW Enhancements

Pennsylvania received more than $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support the commonwealth’s child care industry, child care providers, and the children and families that rely on this system. $352 million in Child Care Development Fund federal ARPA funding will also support:

  • Lower maximum copayments for families eligible for CCW, effective January 17, 2022: $121.9 million will be used to reduce the maximum family copayment for families participating in subsidized child care through CCW. Current copayments range from 3-11% of a family’s overall income. This change will lower the copayment to 3-7%, in line with federal recommendations for family obligations for subsidized child care. No family will see an increased copay through the adjustment, and providers will still receive the difference as a part of the CCW base rate.

  • Increased base rates for providers participating in CCW, effective January 1, 2022: $213.7 million will support increasing base rates paid to subsidized child care to the 60th percentile compared to the private pay market rate. This change brings Pennsylvania closer to the federally-recommended 75th percentile. Nearly two-thirds of children whose families are eligible for CCW are enrolled in a STAR 1 or 2 rated facility. By investing in base rates to providers participating in CCW, Pennsylvania is investing in quality across the child care industry for the children and families served by this program. In March 2021, the Wolf Administration raised base rates from the 25th percentile to the 40th percentile.

  • Rate incentives for providers that offer child care during non-traditional hours, effective January 1, 2022: $16.8 million will support add-on incentives to CCW base rates for child care providers that offer at least two hours of care during non-traditional hours.

Prior to the pandemic, the Keystone Command Center for Economic Development and Workforce recommended expanding availability of licensed child care before 6 a.m. and after 6 p.m. – what is normally considered “traditional” child care hours – in order to give flexibility and security for working parents. These rate incentives will support providers that offer care outside of traditional hours, giving parents a safe place for their children and the security necessary to help parents return to work.

More Information

For more information on child care providers operating in Pennsylvania, visit Providers seeking to apply for Child Care Stabilization Grants can learn more and apply online.

For details, read Gov. Wolf’s full press release.


December 16, 2021

Base Rates for CCW Reimbursements to Increase January 1

Effective January 1, 2022, base rates paid to child care providers participating in Child Care Works (CCW), Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program will increase.  The new base rates are now available online.


The current Maximum Child Care Allowance (MCCA) rates (effective March 1, 2021) and the new MCCA rates (effective January 1, 2022) are now available on the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) website. The MCCA is the ceiling set by the Department for payment of child care services to budget groups eligible for child care payment.

Base rates per region can be found in the document Department of Human Services: Maximum Daily Child Care Allowances (MCCA)-effective 1/1/22.

Updating Pay Rates

OCDEL established a fee structure policy to pay all certified child care, relative, and in-home providers serving subsidy children at the lower of two rates – the rate the certified child care providers charge private-pay families or the established MCCA.

Providers who want to update their private-pay rates must communicate those changes to families and provide verification of the updated private-pay rates to their ELRC. If a certified child care provider’s private-pay rate is lower than the new MCCA, they will receive the lower of the two rates.

Allegheny County Providers

Option 1: Certified child care providers can enter their updated rates in Provider Self Service (PSS) and return “Appendix C-1 ELRC Subsidized Child Care Provider Reported Rates” along with the verification of the certified child care provider’s published private-pay rates to the ELRC at (put CCW C-1 Rates in the subject line).

Option 2: Certified child care providers can send “Appendix C-1 ELRC Subsidized Child Care Provider Reported Rates” along with the verification of their certified child care provider’s published private-pay rates directly to the ELRC at (put CCW C-1 Rates in the subject line).  The ELRC will then enter the new information into PELICAN CCW.

When the certified child care provider returns “Appendix C-1 ELRC Subsidized Child Care Provider Reported Rates” along with verification of the certified child care provider’s published private-pay rates, the ELRC will:

  • Enter and/or verify the certified child care providers’ published rates into PELICAN CCW.

  • Use January 1, 2022 as the effective date if verification is received by January  31, 2022.

  • Convert the rates and save as “Converted Payment Rates.”

  • Generate and send to the certified child care provider the “Appendix C-2 ELRC Subsidized Child Care Provider Payment Rates.”

  • Once verified, ELRC staff will then convert the payment rates in the PELICAN CCW system, and the certified child care provider will be paid based on the new private pay rates, or MCCA, whichever is the lower of the two rates. The ELRC will not modify rates for any certified child care provider who does not return Appendix (C-1) along with verification of the certified child care provider’s published rates.

The ELRC will not need to enter rates for relative or in-home providers. The ELRC Region 5 will generate and send “Appendix B Subsidized Child Care Relative Provider Payment Rates” to both types of providers.


November 29, 2021

CCW Non-Traditional Care Add-On Rates Beginning January 2022

Beginning January 1, 2022, PA Department of Human Services certified child care providers who provide care to children receiving Child Care Works (CCW) during non-traditional hours will be eligible for a non-traditional care add-on rate.


DHS certified child care providers that provide care to children receiving CCW for at least two hours between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays or any amount of time on weekends will receive a non-traditional care add-on rate.

These rate incentives will support providers that offer care outside of traditional hours, giving parents a safe place for their children and the security necessary to help parents return to work.

The non-traditional care add-on only applies to the days that the non-traditional care takes place and not to any days the child only receives care during typical hours. The add-on rate will be 25% above the established subsidy base rate for each CCW child served during non-traditional hours. Keystone STAR designation does not impact this add-on.

For details, read the full announcement by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).


February 1, 2021

Base Rates for CCW Reimbursements to Increase March 1

On February 1, 2021, Governor Tom Wolf announced an increase to base rates paid to child care providers participating in Child Care Works (CCW), Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program.



Effective March 1, 2021, base rates for CCW reimbursements will be increased to the 40th percentile of the market rate for child care in the provider’s region, up from approximately the 25th percentile where most of Pennsylvania’s child care providers currently sit. This change brings Pennsylvania closer to the federal government’s recommendation of reimbursing at the 75th percentile. This increase equates to an additional $28.8 million in federal funding for the 2020-21 fiscal year and $87.2 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

This change will also regionalize rate calculation based on Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) regions rather than calculating rates by county for each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Pennsylvania is currently the only state that does not regionalize rates. Regionalization of rates creates a larger pool to more accurately represent rates across provider types licensed by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning in each region rather than calculating rates by county with limited sample sizes and provider type representation.

No provider will see their rates decrease with this new structure. The average increase across all regions is $4.59. Every three years, a child care market rate survey is conducted to guide rate setting. The last Market Rate Survey was completed in 2019 and released in 2020.

Why It Matters

“Child care is essential for a functioning economy. Investments in this industry benefit us in two different ways. They support communities and the families that rely on care to join the workforce every day and nurture the growth and development of young minds as they prepare for grade school and later long-term success,” said Gov. Wolf.  “Increasing base reimbursement rates is an investment in the dedicated professionals that do this work every day and for countless parents and children. We all seek to weather the challenges created by the pandemic and the recovery ahead.”

According to the announcement, nearly two-thirds of children enrolled in CCW are in a lower-rated child care provider, and higher quality providers serve fewer CCW families. By providing increased base payments for care for children enrolled in CCW, more child care operators will increase operating margins allowing them to potentially retain more highly qualified staff and engage in enhanced quality activities.

“Child Care Works makes quality, affordable child care accessible for working families across our commonwealth,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. “By investing in base rates, we invest in quality across our child care industry – an investment that will help providers grow, develop, and retain staff and continue to improve services and care for our youngest Pennsylvanians.”

What is Child Care Works?

Child Care Works is Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program that helps low-income families pay their child care tuition and fees. To be eligible, families must earn 200 percent or less of the federal poverty guidelines at application and meet work or job training requirements. Eligible families are able to choose to enroll at any participating child care provider, which can be impacted by convenience, transportation, cost, and working hours. Families enrolled in CCW pay a co-pay, and providers that participate in CCW are reimbursed a set base rate per child from the state with the opportunity for add-on funding.

More Information

For more information, read Governor Wolf’s full announcement.


October 6, 2020

Promoting Inclusion in ECE Programs

On September 30, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released guidance on strategies early learning programs should use to ensure all young children with disabilities and their families have access to high-quality, inclusive programming.


OCDEL issued this announcement to provide guidance on strategies that promote inclusion for all students, set an expectation for high-quality programs to be inclusive of children with disabilities, and identify resources available to local early learning programs.

Who Does This Apply To?

Effective October 1, 2020, this announcement applies to both federally- and state-funded programs, including Child Care Works, Child Care Certification, Early Head Start, Head Start, Early Intervention, Home Visiting programs, Keystone STARS, Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, and Family Centers.

Next Steps

To promote inclusion, local early learning programs must complete the following actions:

1. In collaboration with program staff and families:

    • develop and implement a written program policy that focuses on actively including young children with disabilities in your early learning program;
    • review and modify existing policies, practices, and procedures to ensure barriers are removed that would prevent children with disabilities from accessing or participating in your early learning program; and
    • develop resources for effective communication between families and program staff to ensure families know the benefits of and their rights related to inclusion.

2. Assess staff competencies and implement professional development, which includes family perspectives, related to inclusion based on the needs of staff and families.

3. Seek assistance from your local Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) to identify examples of inclusive program policies, structures, and activities to provide models of dissemination and replication throughout Pennsylvania.

4. Develop and strengthen partnerships between your program and Early Intervention programs so that supports and services for children with disabilities can be provided within the daily routines and activities of high-quality early learning programs.

5. Participate in ongoing opportunities for stakeholder input and professional development opportunities on additional OCDEL guidance related to the inclusion of all children.

6. Implement this policy in conjunction with the Announcement, Reduction of Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania and any additional guidance related to the inclusion of all children.

OCDEL’s Support

To promote practices that support the inclusion of all young children in early learning programs, OCDEL will complete the following actions:

1. In collaboration with and input from stakeholders and families, OCDEL will:

2. OCDEL will provide individualized support, including on-site coaching and consultation, to OCDEL-funded programs.

3. Through the ELRCs, OCDEL will:

    • identify opportunities for community partnerships to promote inclusion, including partnerships for providing individualized support, professional development, and other capacity-building resources;
    • provide support and guidance to assist child care programs to progress in their Keystone STAR level rating; and
    • support child care programs to understand their vital role in supporting inclusion.

More Information

For more information, read the full announcement.


September 21, 2020

State Office Candidate Conversation: Child Care

In Allegheny County, 48 percent of eligible children do not have access to publicly funded pre-k programs and 67 percent of Child Care Works subsidy-eligible children under age five remain unserved. Before you vote on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, find out what your candidates think about early childhood education.


Join the Children Matter Action Fund on September 23 for an online conversation about child care with Allegheny County candidates for state office in House Districts 28, 30, 44, and 45! To register, visit the event webpage.

Unable to attend? Check out each candidate’s views on the Children Matter Action Fund website.


July 21, 2020

Child Care Works Payment Practice Changes Effective 9/1

On July 17, the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) issued an announcement stating that starting September 1, 2020, Child Care Works (CCW) payments will return to payment practices and policies based on attendance and invoicing for all children. This will remain true regardless of when a child was enrolled with the provider.

Additional Policy Changes

In addition, the following policies will again be effective starting September 1:

    • absences will be tracked and counted towards the 40 days of absences for all children;
    • children’s enrollment after five days of absence will be suspended until the child returns to care;
    • all Adverse Action notices will be sent to families per policy;
    • dual enrollments, the practice implemented under COVID-19 to support both a closed provider and families who need care, will end; and
    • collection of family co-pays will resume.

The announcement is intended to provide advance notice to child care providers, allowing them to plan for the use of final CARES Act funding which will be issued in August. Providers should communicate the resumption of absence policies (effective September 1) to the families they serve.

More Information

For more information, view OCDEL’s full announcement or contact your local ELRC.


July 10, 2020

OCDEL Releases an “Opening a Child Care Facility” Toolkit

To support individuals interested in opening their own child care program, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released the “Opening a Child Care Facility in Pennsylvania” toolkit that features details on the step-by-step process of requirements and regulations, obtaining a child care certification, and more!

Featured Topics

In the toolkit, OCDEL features information on the following topics and more:

    • child care requirements and regulations;
    • types of child care facilities;
    • the process to obtain a child care certification;
    • the types of clearances needed for staff;
    • health and safety requirements, including fire safety;
    • the role of child care subsidies; and
    • financial considerations and supports for operating a child care business (private pay, Child Care Works, Pre-K Counts, etc.).

Download the Toolkit

For more information on how to open a child care facility in Pennsylvania, download the full toolkit.