Chapter 3 : Section 8.1

Child Care Services


The Department shall refer children and families deemed eligible for Child Care Assistance on a case by case basis, including children in the care, custody, and control of the Department who need child care services as documented in the case plan.

The Department will provide child care services when necessary:

  • as a safety action in a present danger plan;

  • as a part of a safety plan; or

  • to support a child’s well-being.

The Department will arrange child care services for a caregiver when the service is necessary to support the needs of the caregiver or needs of the child.

The Department will arrange for children in out-of-home care with special needs to receive child care appropriate to their need(s).

Child Care Assistance may not be for use with noncertified relative providers.

The Fast Pass DCS Urgent Referral will be utilized where available, to expedite the authorization of child care services outside of regular business hours (at night, on a weekend, or holiday) when the Department requires child care to:

  • ensure safety;

  • prevent removal; or

  • prevent disruption of a child from an out-of-home caregiver.

There is no financial eligibility requirement for DCS child care. DES reimburses child care providers up to a maximum reimbursement rate negotiated by DES with each provider. Families/foster parents are responsible for paying child care providers the difference between the child care provider's rate and the DES reimbursement.

DCS child care may be provided to prevent abuse or neglect. The objectives of these services are:

  • to relieve stress of the caretaker (respite);

  • to provide monitoring of a child by child care personnel; or

  • to provide a child with opportunities for socialization/ structure when such opportunities do not exist in the home. This is a clinical or case management decision, which must be documented in the case plan.


Child care is available through a collaboration with the Department of Economic Security/Division of Child Care(DES/DCC) to enable a parent (including a teen parent) or caregiver to:

  • seek or maintain employment;

  • participate in educational activities;

  • attend medical, dental or behavioral health appointments;

  • participate in case plan staffings, Child and Family Team meetings, Team Decision-Making meetings, court and FCRB hearings or participate in other activities associated with DCS;

  • manage an emergency situation such as death, medical emergency, or family or personal crisis; or

  • meet a child’s need for socialization or support a child’s need related to the development or enhancement of cognitive or psycho-motor skills.

Child care services are available to parenting teens in out-of-home care without the need for a hotline report or dependency involving the teen parent’s child. A parenting teen in out-of-home care may receive child care assistance on the same basis as other parents/caregivers except that, for teens residing with their child(ren) in a DCS contracted group home, the group home is responsible to provide child care.

Child care services through DCS/DES/DCC are additionally:

  • available up to a maximum of 23 days per month, per child;

  • authorized for 12 months (after which the service must be re-authorized);

  • not available to children age 13 and older;

  • not available to children in group homes, DDD licensed homes, or Therapeutic Foster Care; and

  • not available to birth and/or adopted children of out-of-home caregivers.

DES reimburses childcare providers up to a maximum reimbursement rate negotiated by DES with each provider. There is no copayment for child care services; however, there may be additional charges that parents/caregivers are responsible to pay a child care provider. For example, parents/caregivers are responsible for paying child care providers the difference between the child care provider's rate and the negotiated DES reimbursement rate.

The DCS Specialist will assist eligible parents/caregivers to identify a DES/DCC eligible child care provider by doing the following:

  • refer the parent or caregiver to Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R), 1-800-308-9000 or; and

  • assist the parents/caregivers to verify the identified provider has a current DES registration agreement and has a vacancy for the child.

The DCS Specialist or designee will complete the following steps to request child care for an assessment closing at investigation:

  • complete and submit the Child Care Referral, DCS-1956 to CCA at;

  • respond within two business days to DCC requests for additional information to prevent delays in child care authorization; and

  • notify the family that once the referral expires, they will need to apply with DCC within 30 days to determine child care eligibility and to avoid Priority Waiting List if eligible.

The DCS Specialist or designee will complete the following steps to request child care for open cases:

  • identify the need for child care in the case plan;

  • approve DCS child care services up to a maximum of one (1) year;

  • complete and submit the Child Care Referral, DCS-1956 to CCA at; and

  • review the continued need for child care annually and/or at time of the case plan staffing and case closure.

Upon receipt of a referral, the DCC Eligibility Specialist shall authorize Child Care Assistance and contact the identified child care provider. Only the DCC may contact the child care providers to authorize payment. (DCC may not authorize non-certified, relative providers to provide Child Care Assistance for a child receiving child care services through the Department.)

The DCS Specialist or designee will submit an updated referral n the following circumstances:

  • when there are changes in:

    • child care provider (not needed if caregiver contacts DCC directly),

    • caregivers address, or

    • hours authorized (increase/decrease);

  • a temporary child care provider is needed for 30 days or less;

  • to reauthorize child care (required yearly for cases open more than a year); and

  • to terminate child care services when a child:

    • has been reunified or moved to a different placement and no longer requires child care;

    • has been adopted;

    • has achieved permanency through guardianship;

    • moves into a group home;

    • is no longer a resident of Arizona; or

    • is deceased, incarcerated or confined to an institution.

Children with Special Needs

The DCS Specialist will document the special need(s) of the child and indicate the qualifying document provided in the Child Care Referral, DCS-1956, under Additional Information.

The DCS Specialist will send the Child Care Referral, DCS-1956 to with the attached qualifying documents to the referral. Qualifying documents include:

  • Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP);

  • Individualized Education Plans (IEP);

  • Individualized Support Plans (ISP);

  • 504 Plans;

  • medical statements from a licensed physician, certified psychologist or a certified behavioral health specialist; and

  • others, as approved by DES/DCC.

The effective date of the special needs service shall be:

  • the start date on the referral for children not currently receiving DCS child care; or

  • the date DCC receives the special needs referral for children currently receiving DCS child care.

Urgent Child Care Referrals

The Fast Pass DCS Referral is a service that allows child care providers to receive immediate notification of an authorization for children who are referred by DCS.

The DCS Specialist or designee will complete the following steps to access the Fast Pass:

  • review with the family the DCC list of child care centers, child care group homes, and certified family child care providers that offer extended hours; and

  • phone the child care provider to ensure space is available for the child during the hours needed for child care.

  • Complete the NCR Triplicate Fast Pass DCS Referral, CCA-1224A and distribute as follows:

    • Retain the original or top copy of the form for the hard file;

    • Provide two copies to parent/caregiver: one for the parent/caregiver to keep and the other to give to the child care provider; and

    • Email the original to the same day.

Complete a New Service Request in Guardian. Ensure in the Service Type that Fast Pass Child Care Services is selected.

Continuing Child Care Services after Case Closure or Finalization of Adoption

The DCS Specialist will direct the parent, guardian and/or custodian to apply with DES/DCC for continued assistance if needed, within 30 days of the 12-month expiration date (or for adoptive parents and permanent guardians, 30 days prior to the date of the finalization of an adoption or permanent guardianship), to determine continued child care eligibility and if eligible, to avoid the Priority Waiting List.


Specify use of child care services in the child's case plan.

File a copy of the Child Care Referral in the hard copy record.

Fast Pass Urgent Child Care Referrals:

Scan the referral and attach the document as an Artifact in Guardian. Document in Notes the justification for the Urgent Child Care referral and include the following information:

  • assessment or case name;

  • assessment or case number;

  • number of children included on the referral; and

  • the reasons for Fast Pass DCS Urgent Referral choose at least one of the following:

    • ensure safety

    • prevent removal; or

    • prevent placement disruption.

Effective Date: February 1, 2021
Revision History: November 30, 2012, September 12, 2018, December 20, 2018