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Child Care: CCAP

Child Care Assistance Program

How can CCAP help me?

The Child Care Assistance Program may assist you in paying for the child care you need to attend school or training or to work. You are responsible for making a copayment, the amount of which is based on your family size and income. CCAP is run by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and administered in Cook County by Illinois Action for Children (IAC). CCAP pays for full-time or part-time care, including transportation time going to and from child care.

Who can receive CCAP services?

To be eligible for CCAP, you must be an Illinois resident, have a child under the age of 13, and have an income within the program guidelines. You must also satisfy at least one of the following:

  • Be working with an income within the program guidelines;
  • Be a TANF recipient participating in an approved work activity;
  • Be a teen parent enrolled full time in elementary or high school, or GED classes to obtain a high school degree or equivalent;
  • Have a child with special needs (eligible until the child turns 19).

Teen parents enrolled full time in elementary or high school or GED classes are eligible for full-time, full year child care, including summers, when using a licensed child care provider, up to and including a three-month period after graduation, in order to secure employment or to prepare for higher education. Children can get assistance regardless of their immigration status. Listing your Social Security number on your application is not required.

What are the income guidelines?

Income eligibility is based on your family size and income. In two-parent families, both incomes must be combined to determine eligibility. Two-parent households consist of married couples or parents who have a child in common. Your income must be at or below the levels listed for your corresponding family size. Be sure to include yourself when determining your family size. As of July 1, 2015, the income guidelines have been changed due to budgetary issues. Households first applying for CCAP benefits must now have an income that is 50% or less of the current federal poverty guidelines for their family size. Prior to the July 1st change, the income guideline was at 185% or less of the current federal poverty guidelines. So, if your household already uses CCAP, upon reassessment of your eligibility for CCAP (called a “redetermination”) your income eligibility limit will remain at 185% of the federal poverty guidelines. The changed income limits can be seen in the table to the right.

What kinds of services are available through CCAP?

CCAP can refer you to what best suits your individual needs for quality child care in your community. CCAP will reimburse the provider of your choice who is one of the following types of providers:

  • A licensed or license-exempt child care center;
  • A licensed child care home; or
  • A family, friend, or neighbor who is not legally required to be licensed and who cares for your child in your home or the home of the family, friend, or neighbor.

Providers must be at least 18 years old and must not be a parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian of the child; a person living in the home who is a parent of the child’s sibling or has a child in common with the applicant; or a member of the parent’s TANF unit. A family, friend, or neighbor is not legally required to be licensed if the family, friend, or neighbor is caring for three or fewer children, including the children of the family, friend, or neighbor, or all children in care are from the same household. All license-exempt providers must pass an Illinois Sex Offender Registry Check and Child Abuse and Neglect Check. License-exempt providers must also pass a Criminal Background Check, unless they are a household member aged 13 to 17.

What are copayments?

The copayment is the amount that you are responsible for paying. Illinois will pay the rest of your child care expenses based on a provider reimbursement schedule.

Your copayment will be based on your income and family size. Whether your children are of school age can also impact your copay amount. As of July 1, 2015, copay amounts have increased. You can get an estimate of your copay by visiting the DHS online eligibility calculator.

Child Support Requirement

If your family is eligible for CCAP but has an absent parent in your household, you must have an active child support collection case with the Division of Child Support Services at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services within six months of determining your CCAP eligibility. A case must be open for each absent parent of every child in the household.

However, in some cases a family may be permitted to not comply with the child support requirement if they demonstrate “good cause.” A family may claim good cause for noncompliance if:

  • the child was conceived as a result of incest or rape;
  • there is a possibility the child is going to be adopted out;
  • there may be emotional or physical harm to the parent or the child (this includes domestic or sexual violence); there is a fear or risk of future harm; cooperation would make it more difficult to escape the violence; or cooperation would unfairly penalize the survivor of such violence

Note: The child support requirement is a new CCAP requirement. Currently it is not clear who has responsibility for ensuring that families have the opportunity to demonstrate “good cause”. If you need to demonstrate “good cause” and are not given the opportunity to do so, see the Legal Services section of this guide for information about how to get free or low-cost legal help.

How do I apply for CCAP?

To apply for CCAP, follow these steps:

  • Identify a child care provider. If you don’t already have a provider, contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency.
  • The agency for Cook County is Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) Child Care Resource & Referral. You can find information about their hours and services on their website.

    They have offices located at:

    North Side/Uptown
    4753 N. Broadway
    1st Floor
    Chicago, IL 60640

    Phone: 312-823-1100

    Central/West Side
    1340 S. Damen
    3rd Floor
    Chicago, IL 60608

    South Side/Chatham
    8741 S. Greenwood
    Suite 300
    Chicago, IL 60619

To find your local CCR&R outside Chicago, go to the IDHS website, or call 1-877-202-4453 (toll-free).

  • Once you have a provider, complete an application form. You can find the application form online (including a Spanish version), or you can call your local CCR&R for a form. Your local child care center may also have application forms.
  • Obtain proof of your income; such proof includes copies of your last two paycheck stubs or, if you have not been working that long, a verification letter from your employer or verification of self-employment.
  • Obtain proof of your school enrollment, including copies of your official school schedule and copies of your most recent report card showing your GPA.
  • Submit your completed application to your local CCR&R or your child care center (if they process applications). In Cook County, send applications to:

    Illinois Action for Children (IAFC)
    Childcare Assistance Progam
    1340 S. Damen, Third Floor
    Chicago, IL 60608
    Phone: 312-823-1100


    IAFC also has walk-in sites throughout Chicago to assist parents in applying for and troubleshooting problems with CCAP. These sites also have drop-boxes to submit your paperwork conveniently and securely. To locate IAFC walk-in sites, visit Act For Children.

More Information and Resources

Some community colleges and universities have on-site child care programs. Be sure to ask if your school provides child care services, and what you need to do to enroll.

For information on family resources, visit Illinois Action for Children online.

Contact the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) at 866-697-8278 for provider information.

Maryville Crisis Nursery may help you with free temporary emergency child care if your family is in crisis— whether you are experiencing a medical emergency, overwhelming stress, a mental health or substance abuse problem, domestic or sexual violence, employment or school problem, homelessness or other problems . The crisis nursery offers immediate crisis care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for children from birth through age six. Child care is available for a length of 24-to-72 hours for an initial stay, and families may use the nursery for up to 30 days in a year. The crisis nursery may also help you with individual crisis counseling, referrals to community resources, advocacy, and follow-up services. The nursery is located at:

Maryville Crisis Nursery
4015 N. Oak Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60634
24-Hour Helpline: 773-205-3637

View their online informational brochure.

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