68-1206. Social services; administration; contracts; payments; duties; federal Child Care Subsidy program; participation; requirements; funding; evaluation.

(1) The Department of Health and Human Services shall administer the program of social services in this state. The department may contract with other social agencies for the purchase of social services at rates not to exceed those prevailing in the state or the cost at which the department could provide those services. The statutory maximum payments for the separate program of aid to dependent children shall apply only to public assistance grants and shall not apply to payments for social services.

(2)(a) As part of the provision of social services authorized by section 68-1202, the department shall participate in the federal child care assistance program under 42 U.S.C. 9857 et seq., as such sections existed on January 1, 2021, and provide child care assistance to families with incomes up to (i) one hundred eighty-five percent of the federal poverty level prior to October 1, 2023, or (ii) one hundred thirty percent of the federal poverty level on and after October 1, 2023.

(b) As part of the provision of social services authorized by this section and section 68-1202, the department shall participate in the federal Child Care Subsidy program. A child care provider seeking to participate in the federal Child Care Subsidy program shall comply with the criminal history record information check requirements of the Child Care Licensing Act. In determining ongoing eligibility for this program, ten percent of a household's gross earned income shall be disregarded after twelve continuous months on the program and at each subsequent redetermination. In determining ongoing eligibility, if a family's income exceeds one hundred eighty-five percent of the federal poverty level prior to October 1, 2023, or one hundred thirty percent of the federal poverty level on and after October 1, 2023, the family shall receive transitional child care assistance through the remainder of the family's eligibility period or until the family's income exceeds eighty-five percent of the state median income for a family of the same size as reported by the United States Bureau of the Census, whichever occurs first. When the family's eligibility period ends, the family shall continue to be eligible for transitional child care assistance if the family's income is below two hundred percent of the federal poverty level prior to October 1, 2023, or one hundred eighty-five percent of the federal poverty level on and after October 1, 2023. The family shall receive transitional child care assistance through the remainder of the transitional eligibility period or until the family's income exceeds eighty-five percent of the state median income for a family of the same size as reported by the United States Bureau of the Census, whichever occurs first. The amount of such child care assistance shall be based on a cost-shared plan between the recipient family and the state and shall be based on a sliding-scale methodology. A recipient family may be required to contribute a percentage of such family's gross income for child care that is no more than the cost-sharing rates in the transitional child care assistance program as of January 1, 2015, for those no longer eligible for cash assistance as provided in section 68-1724.

(c) For the period beginning July 1, 2021, through September 30, 2023, funds provided to the State of Nebraska pursuant to the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. 9857 et seq., as such act and sections existed on March 24, 2021, shall be used to pay the costs to the state resulting from the income eligibility changes made in subdivisions (2)(a) and (b) of this section by Laws 2021, LB485. If the available amount of such funds is insufficient to pay such costs, then funds provided to the state for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program established in 42 U.S.C. 601 et seq. may also be used. No General Funds shall be used to pay the costs to the state resulting from the income eligibility changes made in subdivisions (2)(a) and (b) of this section by Laws 2021, LB485, for the period beginning July 1, 2021, through September 30, 2023.

(d) The Department of Health and Human Services shall collaborate with a private nonprofit organization with expertise in early childhood care and education for an independent evaluation of the income eligibility changes made in subdivisions (2)(a) and (b) of this section by Laws 2021, LB485, if private funding is made available for such purpose. The evaluation shall be completed by December 15, 2023, and shall be submitted electronically to the department and to the Health and Human Services Committee of the Legislature.

(3) In determining the rate or rates to be paid by the department for child care as defined in section 43-2605, the department shall adopt a fixed-rate schedule for the state or a fixed-rate schedule for an area of the state applicable to each child care program category of provider as defined in section 71-1910 which may claim reimbursement for services provided by the federal Child Care Subsidy program, except that the department shall not pay a rate higher than that charged by an individual provider to that provider's private clients. The schedule may provide separate rates for care for infants, for children with special needs, including disabilities or technological dependence, or for other individual categories of children. The schedule may also provide tiered rates based upon a quality scale rating of step three or higher under the Step Up to Quality Child Care Act. The schedule shall be effective on October 1 of every year and shall be revised annually by the department.

Source:Laws 1973, LB 511, § 6; Laws 1982, LB 522, § 44; Laws 1991, LB 836, § 26; Laws 1995, LB 401, § 22; Laws 1996, LB 1044, § 347; Laws 2006, LB 994, § 68; Laws 2007, LB296, § 279; Laws 2013, LB507, § 15; Laws 2014, LB359, § 3; Laws 2015, LB81, § 1; Laws 2019, LB460, § 1; Laws 2020, LB1185, § 1; Laws 2021, LB485, § 1.

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