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Child Care Assistance Program (Child Care Scholarships)
As of May 1, 2017
  1. What is the Best Beginnings Child Care scholarship program?
  2. Who can get help from Best Beginnings?
  3. How does the Best Beginnings Child Care scholarship program work?
  4. How much will I have to pay each month on BBCC scholarship program?
  5. Can I pick my child care provider if I get help from the Best Beginnings Child Care scholarship program?
  6. How do I find a child care provider who will accept Best Beginnings Child Care scholarships?
  7. Can I change my child care provider at any time with a BBCC scholarship?
  8. Can I use more than one child care provider with a BBCC scholarship?
  9. Do I have to work, look for work, or go to school to get a BBCC scholarship?
  10. Who is an eligible caregiver?
  11. What if I am unemployed and need child care to look for work?
  12. Do I or my children have to be U.S. Citizens to get a BBCC scholarship?
  13. I am an immigrant. If I get help from a BBCC scholarship, will I be a public charge?
  14. Does if matter how long I have lived in Montana?
  15. Are there any resource limits for Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarships?
  16. Do I have to cooperate with the child support office to get a Child Care scholarship?
  17. How do I get an application?
  18. What is the application like?
  19. How do I apply? Do I have to go in person?
  20. Can I apply for a BBCC scholarship while I am pregnant, if I have no other children?
  21. How soon will I be able to get help from BBCC scholarships?
  22. What do I have to do to stay on the program?
  23. How often do I have to renew my BBCC scholarship (set it up again)?
  24. What happens if I move to another county?
  25. Is there a limit to how long I can get BBCC?

1. What is the Best Beginnings Child Care scholarship program?
The Best Beginnings Child Care scholarship program is a scholarship service available to qualified working families.  

The Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Program is administered by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.  To find an agency in your area click here.

2. Who can get help from Best Beginnings?
The Best Beginnings Program is for families with children under age 13 (and under age 18 for children who are handicapped or have special needs). To get Best Beginnings, your income has to be below the limits. Parents also have to work, look for work, or go to school to get Best Beginnings.

3. How does the Best Beginnings Child Care scholarship program work?
BBCC scholarship is not a free program. Almost all parents have to pay part of the cost of child care each month. This is called a co-payment or co-pay. BBCC has a sliding fee system — that means families that make more money pay a higher co-pay than families who make less money. The county that you live in also pays part of the cost of your child care. If the child care is done in your home, payments will be sent to you to pay your provider. If the child care is done at a provider’s home or a center, payments will be sent to your provider. If your provider charges more than the amount that the county pays, then you may have to pay the extra amount of money (plus your co-pay). Or you can find another provider who does not charge more than what the county will pay.

4. How much will I have to pay each month on BBCC scholarship program?
The amount you pay each month (your parent co-pay) depends on your income and your family size.  Co-pays begin at as little as $10 a month and can be as much as a few hundred dollars each month.

5. Can I pick my child care provider if I get help from the Best Beginnings Child Care scholarship program?
Yes. Your provider could be a child care center, a family-based care, or even a friend, family member or neighbor. The provider must be 18 years old. If your childcare provider is not licensed through the state of Montana, they will need to be approved as a Legally Certified Provider. There is an application and background check process for the provider and their household members-to ensure your child is safe. Family Connections MT processes the LCP applications statewide for approval from ECSB. The provider will need to be approved before BBCC will pay for your child to go there. For more information on LCP program  click here.

6. How do I find a child care provider who will accept Best Beginnings Child Care scholarships?
You can call Family Connections MT at 855-406-2273 (CARE) for a Best Beginnings Child Care Referral. You can also visit www.FamilyConnectionsMT.org. This agency can provide you with information on choosing quality child care, as well as profiles of child care providers who may meet your needs. Please be sure to ask the provider on the referral listing if they accept the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship.

7. Can I change my child care provider at any time with a BBCC scholarship?
Yes, but you must tell your child care worker within 1 (one) day of a provider change -- unless your child is in danger.  If you think your child is in danger, please talk to your child care worker right away.

8. Can I use more than one child care provider with a BBCC scholarship?
Yes. If you need to use more than one provider because of your schedule or your child’s needs, you can.

9. Do I have to work, look for work, or go to school to get a BBCC scholarship?
Yes. To get a BBCC scholarship, every adult who lives in your home who is a parent, legal guardian, or spouse has to work, look for work, or go to school.  Two parent families must work at least 120 hours per month between the two parents.  A single parent must work 60 hours per month or 40 hours per month while attending school full time.

10. Who is an eligible caregiver?
If these people live in your home, they are eligible caregivers and have to go to work, look for work, or go to school for you to get a BBCC scholarship:
  • The child’s mother and father (even if they are not married)
  • An adult married to the mother or father of the child
  • The child’s legal guardian and his or her spouse
These people who live in your home are not eligible caregivers. They do not have to work, look for work, or go to school for you to get a BBCC scholarship (unless they are legal guardians):
  • Grandparents of a child
  • A parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Adult relatives who are not the mother or father of the child
  • Other people who live with you but who are not related to you

11. What if I am unemployed and need child care to look for work?
The BBCC scholarship program grants one 30 calendar day grace period per job loss while a parent on the program,  who has lost a job is looking for work.

12. Do I or my children have to be U.S. Citizens to get a BBCC scholarship?
Parents are required to provide proof of identity (e.g. driver's license, state identification card, passport, school identification card or birth certificate) and proof of residence (e.g. one of the items listed above or a copy of a recent utility bill, rental lease or mortgage document). Families must document the immigration or citizenship status of the children in the family for whom they are applying for child care assistance.

13. I am an immigrant. If I get help from a BBCC scholarship, will I be a public charge?
No. Getting a BBCC scholarship does not mean you are a public charge. You can still become a U.S. Citizen if you get child care help. It will not affect this.

14. Does if matter how long I have lived in Montana?
No. But you do have to apply in the county you live in now.

15. Are there any resource limits for Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarships?
No, BBCC scholarships do not look at your resources to see if you get help. (Resources include money in a checking or savings account and other things of value.)

16. Do I have to cooperate with the child support office to get a Child Care scholarship?
For most people, yes. If you do not cooperate, you will not be able to get a Best Beginnings Child Care scholarship. However, if you have a good reason for not cooperating (for example, if you fear physical or emotional harm to you or your child), you may not have to cooperate. If this applies to you, you have to tell your worker that you want to claim “good cause.” You will have to fill out a form to explain your situation.

17. How do I get an application?
You can pick up an application from your county Child Care Resource and Referral agency.  Click here for a link off the Department of Health and Human Services website for a downloadable application.

18. What is the application like?
The application is 8 pages long, with supplemental pages depending on household size, and includes directions. It asks questions about your income and expenses, your employer or school, and your children and their needs. You will also have to prove your identity and your residence (where you live). You can do this by giving copies of a photo ID or birth certificate and utility bill, rental lease, or mortgage.

19. How do I apply? Do I have to go in person?
You have to turn in your application to your county child care resource and referral agency. You can mail it, fax it or take it in person. There is an intake interview required to apply for Best Beginnings Child Care scholarships. Once you get a BBCC scholarship, you will work with a child care worker who will help you understand the program.

20. Can I apply for a BBCC scholarship while I am pregnant, if I have no other children?
Yes, but you cannot get the scholarship until after the child is born. Some counties have a waiting list, so it is best to apply as soon as possible to get on the list.

21. How soon will I be able to get help from BBCC scholarships?
You will get a letter from your child care worker within 30 days from when you turn in your application. It will tell you how soon you can begin getting help from Best Beginnings Child Care scholarships.

22. What do I have to do to stay on the program?
You need to pay your co-pay to the child care provider every month. You also need to tell your child care worker if some things change in your life within 10 days—such as getting a new phone number or address, a change in your income, getting married or divorced, or having another child. If you do not tell your worker about these changes, you may have to pay back money that the county paid by mistake.

23. How often do I have to renew my BBCC scholarship (set it up again)?
Usually every six months. You will be sent a “redetermination” form in the mail. Fill it out and mail it back right away so that you can continue to get help paying for child care.

24. What happens if I move to another county?
You should tell your child care worker right away.  You can continue on the BBCC scholarship program from your former Child Care Resource & Referral agency (CCR&R) or you can switch to any CCR&R agency within the state.

25. Is there a limit to how long I can get BBCC?
No.