Accessing child care dollars for afterschool

The After School Enrichment Program, McKinley Elementary School, San Francisco, CA

When the program first opened, all of the families of its 20 participants were able to pay a monthly tuition, but program directors realized that many low-income children at the school were being left out. They set out on a mission to find a way to serve these children.

The Challenge: How Can We Serve Low-Income Children in Our Community?

ASEP learned that if the program became a state-licensed child-care center, they could access federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) dollars, an important long-term source of funding for many afterschool programs.

The Process

ASEP contacted the Community Care Licensing Department, a part of the Department of Social Services in California, to determine how to become a licensed child care provider. They learned that all programs funded by CCDF providers must meet and keep staff/child ratios, health, and safety requirements set by the state. In addition, some states require certification or registration of providers. After inspections by the Department of Community Care Licensing, they were granted the license. The approval process took 6 months. Once the license was secured, funding from CCDF was tapped to subsidize low-income students who met income eligibility requirements.

A key step for ASEP was receiving free legal assistance to file the necessary paperwork to become a licensed child care facility. A lawyer friend of the program director recommended contacting the Bay Area Bar Association, which referred them to a lawyer willing to provide pro bono services.

The Outcome

ASEP is now a licensed, nonprofit child-care center for school-age children. Based in a school, ASEP serves 120 of the 230 school students. Most importantly, ASEP is free to 85 percent of the children attending the program, with partial scholarships awarded to the remaining 15 percent.

Applying ASEP's Success at Your Program

  1. Determine if there are additional low-income children your program could be serving.
  2. Find out what the requirements are for your program to be licensed by the state as a child care facility. Contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (R & R). Resource and referral agencies are your local experts on child care and provide parents with many services, including referrals to local child care providers. These local agencies also help build the supply of child care. The R & R's provide an entry point to the child care field, helping providers meet licensing requirements. Resource and referral agencies also support providers by offering low-cost or free training in diverse topics such as health and safety, child development, and sound business practices. Agencies work with local and state governments and the private sector to leverage resources for building and maintaining the supply of quality child care. To find the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency in your community, visit
  3. Call your local Bar Association or Legal Aid Society to determine if your program can receive pro bono legal assistance to help file your paperwork. Use your local phone book to find free legal services in your community. Look under "legal services" in the "community services" section for listings of legal service programs in your area. Some law schools also offer pro bono or reduced cost services to non-profits.

About this funding source:

The CCDF (also called the Child Care and Development Block Grant - CCDBG) is one of the largest funders of afterschool care for school-age children of low-income families. It provides $4.8 billion in funding to help more than 700,000 school-age children with assistance for before- and after-school care, as well as summer programs. The state-level Quality Set-Aside feature of CCDBG offers funds ($18 million in fiscal year 2004) for practitioner training, technical assistance and grants for start-up or expansion. Learn more via our funding database.

The Afterschool Investments Project ( is supported by the Child Care Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and provides technical assistance to Child Care and Development Fund grantees and other state and local leaders supporting afterschool efforts.

Additional details on using child care funds to support your afterschool program can be found in the Finance Project's Using CCDF to Finance Out-of-School Time and Community School Initiatives (

About ASEP:

The After School Enrichment Program's mission is to provide a safe, nurturing and enriching environment for school-age children in the hours afterschool. The program offers daily homework help and small-group tutoring, as well as instruction in the natural sciences, reading, writing, arts, drama, cooking, and physical education. ASEP also arranges one educational field trip each week.

As both a licensed childcare center and a program that is run in partnership with the district, ASEP is able to obtain funding from a variety of sources: the city, the school district, childcare subsidies, tuition payments, Team Up for Youth, foundations and individual giving. ASEP also accesses in-kind support and free or low-cost labor. The program has four youth workers from the Mayor's Youth Employment and Education Project, three Americorps workers from the Bay Area Youth Agency Consortium, two classrooms from the district and monthly science classes from the Academy of Sciences.