Do you need child care to serve?
Find out whether you qualify for childcare benefits and learn about the process in this brief tutorial.
Who is eligible for the AmeriCorps child care benefit?
- Are you enrolled in the VISTA program?
- Do you have custody of the children and are they living with you?
- Are the children under the age of 13?
- Will the AmeriCorps child care benefit be the ONLY child care subsidy you will receive?
If you answered yes to all four questions, you are eligible for this benefit, providing you meet your state's income requirement. To be eligible, your household income must fall under 75% of your State Median Income (SMI).
If you answered no to any of these questions, then you are not eligible for the AmeriCorps child care benefit.
If you have questions about eligibility, or your own state's income requirements, contact GAP Solutions, Inc. (GAPSI). GAPSI manages the Corporation for National and Community Service's (CNCS) child care program including VISTA, and is here to help you through the process
Who can I use as a Child Care Provider?
Each state has regulations as to the type of Child Care Provider you can use while you are covered by the AmeriCorps Child Care Benefit. To find out who you can select as a child care provider, read the AmeriCorps Child Care Provider State Guide! In some states, unlicensed providers are not an option for care. https://www.americorpschildcare.com/index.cfm?tab2
Can I use a family member for child care?
The biological parent of the child needing the childcare benefit cannot be used as a child care provider. Depending on the state in which the care is provided, other blood relatives may be used. Some states allow a relative to serve as an approved provider and some states do not. Please note – regardless of state, providers may not live in the same household as the member and child. All child care providers must be at least 18 years of age to be eligible to participate in the AmeriCorps Child Care program. Please call 855-886-0687 for questions about your options for child care.
What is the AmeriCorps child care benefit?
A VISTA who is approved to receive the child care benefit may apply a portion of the subsidy to cover the cost for child care while the VISTA attends Pre-Service Orientation.
Child care benefits are paid directly to qualified child care providers. Providers may not live in the same household as you and your child. Child care benefits may not exceed applicable payment rates as established in the state in which the child care is provided.
What about state assistance?
If you are eligible for the AmerCorps child care benefit, you are probably also eligible for child care assistance from your state.
- If you are already receiving state child care benefits, you can keep them, but you cannot get the AmeriCorps child care benefit as well.
- If you are not already receiving assistance from your state, continue for more information about how to apply for the AmeriCorps child care benefit.
How do you apply for AmeriCorps child care benefits
You can apply online via computer or smartphone! If you decide to apply by paper, there will be a few additional forms you’ll need to print out and fill out. A Child Care Coordinator will walk you through the steps to get your application complete.
To apply, go to: https://www.americorpschildcare.com
We highly encourage everyone to use the online application system. The online application will remind you of the required documents. You can upload the documents from a computer or from your smart phone. Make sure to have the following documentation ready when you apply:
- Birth Certificates for all children needing child care
- A signed copy of your most current tax return
- Documentation to confirm the monthly amount you receive from all sources of income including food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, and child support
- For all other adult household members, please send a month's worth of paystubs.
Once you have submitted your Child Care Application, your Child Care Provider can apply online. It’s important that the AmeriCorps Member applies online first. Your Child Care Provider will need to upload the following documentation when they apply:
- A copy of their Child Care License
- A completed W9 form
- A Declaration of Rate Sheet
- A copy of State ID and Social Security card (if unlicensed)
When you apply, please make sure to check your email. AmeriCorps Child Care will contact you by email with an update. If there are additional state requirements, AmeriCorps will contact you within 3-5 business days from the day you submit your application. You will be able to check the status of your application through your AmeriCorps Child Care Account.
All completed applications will be reviewed within 5-10 business days and a decision will be sent via e-mail.
Carefully complete your application!
An incomplete application, including missing information from the child care provider, is the number one cause for delay! The longer you wait to apply, the longer your child care payments will delay also. Missing documentation, lack of response from the member and/or provider, and illegible documents are common challenges in application processing. To ensure there are no delays in processing your application, please make sure that the documents you are uploading, faxing, or scanning are legible and clear. You may refer to the AmeriCorps Child Care Program website at: http://www.americorpschildcare.com/ for a detailed list of required forms and supporting documentation. An assigned Child Care Coordinator will email you with information on documentation needed as well as questions about illegible documents. If your application package is incomplete or illegible, your application will be pending review for a period of up to 30 days. Incomplete applications will be denied after the 30 days with the option to appeal.
" Work closely with your child care provider and do as much as you can for them. Be completely honest and let them know that this may take several weeks to a couple of months to process." - a current VISTA
Submit signed and completed copies including all documentation in one of the following ways:
Fax: 1 (800) 521-5415
GAP Solutions, Inc.
Attn: AmeriCorps Childcare Benefits Program
205 Van Buren Street, Suite 205
Herndon, VA 20170
Contact GAPSI to verify that they received your application and it is complete. Contact information is available on their site and at the end of this module. If you applied online, you can check the status of your application via your AmeriCorps Child Care Account.
Remember! The number one delay is failure to submit a complete application by the member and/or the child care provider:
- Visit the GAPSI website and find both the Member and Child Care Provider applications and checklists.
- AmeriCorps Member Checklist
- AmeriCorps Child Care Provider Checklist
If you are approved to receive the child care benefit, you may apply a portion of the subsidy to cover the cost for child care while you are attending Pre-Service Orientation, so get your application in ASAP!
Advice from other VISTAs
- Have all paperwork ready to go and document what you do. It's a lot of paperwork but it's worth it!
- Have some money saved up before this process so that you can afford the transition through 6 weeks
- Be sure to follow up faxes and calls with emails and document your communications and actions during the application process.
- Don't get frustrated. It's a huge privilege to have this benefit. Just deal with the email requests for documentation. It's worth it!
- Hang in there, it gets better, the benefit is worth it! Once the ball gets rolling, GAPSI is great, they pay on time. It's a wonderful experience.
Need more help?
Receiving the child care benefit takes a bit of effort, but will be well worth your time. You may need help along the way, and the VISTA Member Support Unit (VMSU) and GAPSI are here to help. Please contact us when you need help and support.
VISTA Member Support Unit (VMSU)
Corporation for National and Community Service
250 E Street SW
Suite 4300, Mailroom
Washington, DC 20525