Subsidies can help pay child care providers (formerly "day care providers") for the time that parents/caretakers are at work or engaged in other qualifying activity, plus reasonable travel time each way.
Note: If you are currently receiving Temporary Assistance, please check with your worker to find out if you are eligible to have your child care expenses paid from your existing case!
Child care subsidies are available to working families who earn up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for their household size.
New Eligibility Questionnaire!
Answer a short series of questions to see if you may be able to get child care at low or no cost - in 10 minutes or less! Learn more about this new feature provided by NYS OCFS.
For more information about calculating your Gross Monthly Income, please click here.
The following table shows the income limits that apply as of October 1st of 2023:
Subsidies may also be available to families that are:
- participating in a qualifying educational program
- victims of domestic violence
- parent(s) is(are) participating in a qualified substance abuse treatment program
- foster parents who work
Families in other circumstances may also qualify for a child care subsidy. Contact us by phone at (607) 274-5612 or email to find out how we can help! (If you have not heard back from us within 24 hours, please call at (607) 274-5612 for assistance.)
Families eligible for child care subsidies obliged to pay directly to their child care provider a weekly family share. Weekly family share is calculated by taking the portion of the household’s annual gross income that is *above the Federal Poverty Level*, multiplying by 1% and dividing by 52 weeks.
The minimum weekly family share is generally $1.00; however, some households' circumstances exempt them from paying any family share at all. Some examples are: families that are homeless, have child protective/preventive cases, or have only temporary custody/guardianship of a child.
How to apply
There are three ways to obtain an application to receive a child care subsidy.
1. Click here to download the State application in the form of a PDF file (unfortunately not 'fillable'; it will need to be printed out.)
2. Call us at 607-274-5612 to request that a hardcopy application to be mailed to you.
3. Pick up an application in person at the Reception window of the county's Human Services Building in downtown Ithaca (the street address is 320 W. Martin Luther King, Jr./State Street; but our public parking lot is on Seneca Street between Albany and Plain.)
Instructions for completing the application can be downloaded as a Word document from NYS Office of Children and Family Services here.
Important note #1: In addition to the completed application, you will also need to provide copies of several types of supporting documentation. The current list can be accessed from our website as a PDF file here.
Important note #2: Working parents will also need to submit an Employment Information Form (linked here as a PDF file) that has been completed by their employer.
You can submit completed applications and required documentation in three ways:
1. Drop off at the county's Human Services Building.
2. Email: (click this link) (If you have not heard back from us within 24 hours, please call at (607) 274-5612 for assistance.)
3. Mail to:
Low-Income Child Care Assistance Unit
Tompkins County DSS
320 West MLK Jr./State Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
For help finding a child care provider, please contact the Child Development Council at (607) 273-0259 or visit the 'find child care' page of their website.
If you're interested in becoming a child care provider, the Child Development Council can help. Call (607) 273-0259 or visit the 'providers' page of their website.
For additional information on subsidized child care, please visit the NYS Office of Children and Family Services' website: https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/childcare/.
Information about the rights of applicants/recipients of this and other public assistance programs which our department administers locally can be found at https://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications/5208.pdf.