Many families feel the high cost of quality early childhood education is out of reach. In Arizona, one tool to help break this barrier is the Department of Economic Security (ADES) child care subsidy. All centers and group homes licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and all ADES certified family child care providers are eligible to receive ADES child care subsidy reimbursement. This makes partnering with ADES a great idea. But did you know about the other benefits?
Here are the top three reasons why you should be partnering with ADES.
1. Prevent Expulsion
As a contracted ADES provider, you will have access to free quality professional development in topics that cover health and safety, early childhood, infant/toddler, school age development, expulsion prevention and leadership. You’ll get one-on-one technical assistance to further support implementing best practices in your program. Your program also gains access to suspension and expulsion prevention support. This includes a resource hotline, phone consultation, collaboration meetings, site visits and community resources.
2. Boost Your Enrollment
Becoming contracted with ADES expands the reach of your program to more than 18,000 families and 33,000 children across Arizona who otherwise may not consider enrolling. Contracting with ADES brings new families into your program as part of the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) system, a support available for families seeking assistance to find child care. As new children and families enroll, your program will expand and children will gain new peers to learn and grow alongside.
Angel Hesseltine, Cadence Education regional director, who oversees Phoenix Children’s Academy Private Preschools and Quality First participating programs in the Northwest Maricopa and Southeast Maricopa regions, said, “We accept ADES, so all families have an opportunity to receive quality care and education for their children. It benefits our program with higher enrollment and creates an environment of families from many different demographics and backgrounds.”
3. Add a Funding Stream
Contracting with ADES provides a new source of funding for programs who may have historically relied on private pay tuition or whose funding comes from a non-profit or school district budget. ADES contracts with a wide variety of program types and can work with you to determine how their funds can be added to your program’s finance model. Diversifying your funding streams can help provide a more solid foundation for your program’s long-term financial future.
If you haven’t heard already, ADES announced increases to subsidy rates effective on June 1, 2019. These new rates make contracting with ADES more financially feasible for many early childhood programs. In addition, nationally accredited programs and Quality First participants who have achieved a quality-level rating are eligible for a subsidy increase in addition to the new reimbursement rates.
Planning and Advocacy
It’s important to be intentional when planning how your program will partner with ADES and other funding sources to ensure the financial viability of your program.
Bill Berk, owner and director of Outer Limits School, a Quality First participant in the Pima North region, explains how his program intentionally balances funds from parent-pay tuition and ADES child care subsidy, “For many years we ensured a diverse enrollment and maintained an enrollment with at least 75 percent of our families receiving the ADES child care subsidy. This was consistent with our mission. However, due to the reimbursement rates at the time, it made running a high-quality program incredibly challenging. As I looked for advice outside of our school community, I kept hearing a consistent message. ‘You can stick to your goals and go out of business or you can increase your private pay population and continue working with some children living in poverty.’ We were fortunate to be able to increase our private pay population to about 50 percent of our enrollment.”
As a program administrator, it’s important to weigh decisions in terms of their alignment with your program’s mission and their financial impact. “Early childhood programs are businesses and education providers,” said Berk. “Every decision we make must take both into account. All that being said, working with a diverse population is tremendously rewarding on so many levels. I want future generations to grow up in a community free from poverty where all children have the opportunity to enter kindergarten prepared to succeed. This is why we continue to contract with ADES and hope others will do the same.”
To learn more about becoming an ADES-contracted provider, please visit:
Become a DES Certified Child Care Provider
Become a DES Licensed Center or Group Home Provider