INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana child care providers are being offered additional money if they show improvement in the quality of their care for low-income children.
The Family and Social Services Administration says that for the first time a funding boost of up to 30 percent will go to providers meeting higher health, safety and program standards.
The funding goes to child care providers accepting vouchers from the federal Child Care Development Fund. The reimbursement rates announced Monday will depend on where providers rank in the state's voluntary Paths to Quality system, which grades them on a four-tiered scale.
FSSA officials hope it will improve the overall quality of day care in Indiana, where at least 31 children have died in day cares since 2009, The Indianapolis Star reported (http://indy.st/1jWGNJH ).
While many day cares in the state aren't regulated, those that participate in Paths to Quality must meet higher health, safety and program standards. Those that receive federal money are subject to some standards, but Paths to Quality's four levels of care set the bar even higher.
About 41,000 Indiana children from 22,000 families receive child care subsidies from the federal government, the state agency said. The new rates go into effect May 11.
"I think that it will help families be able to have a real choice when choosing child care," said Mindy Bennett, director of programs for Child Care Answers. "It will help families be able to choose higher-rated care and not have to worry about having a difference between what the voucher is and the actual cost of care."
Under the four-tier system, operators on the first level would receive the base reimbursement and providers at levels 2, 3 and 4 would receive 10 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent more, respectively.
Reimbursement rates vary based on a number of factors, including location, type of facility and age of the child.