45 CFR § 98.30 - Parental choice.

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§ 98.30 Parental choice.

(a) The parent or parents of an eligible child who receives or is offered child care services shall be offered a choice:

(1) To enroll the child with an eligible child care provider that has a grant or contract for the provision of such services, if such services are available; or

(2) To receive a child care certificate as defined in § 98.2. Such choice shall be offered any time that child care services are made available to a parent.

(b) When a parent elects to enroll the child with a provider that has a grant or contract for the provision of child care services, the child will be enrolled with the provider selected by the parent to the maximum extent practicable.

(c) In cases in which a parent elects to use a child care certificate, such certificate:

(1) Will be issued directly to the parent;

(2) Shall be of a value commensurate with the subsidy value of the child care services provided under paragraph (a)(1) of this section;

(3) May be used as a deposit for child care services if such a deposit is required of other children being cared for by the provider;

(4) May be used for child care services provided by a sectarian organization or agency, including those that engage in religious activities, if those services are chosen by the parent;

(5) May be expended by providers for any sectarian purpose or activity that is part of the child care services, including sectarian worship or instruction;

(6) Shall not be considered a grant or contract to a provider but shall be considered assistance to the parent.

(d) Child care certificates shall be made available to any parents offered child care services.


(1) For child care services, certificates under paragraph (a)(2) of this section shall permit parents to choose from a variety of child care categories, including:

(i) Center-based child care;

(ii) Family child care; and

(iii) In-home child care, with limitations, if any, imposed by the Lead Agency and described in its Plan at § 98.16(i)(2). Under each of the above categories, care by a sectarian provider may not be limited or excluded.

(2) Lead Agencies shall provide information regarding the range of provider options under paragraph (e)(1) of this section, including care by sectarian providers and relatives, to families offered child care services.

(f) With respect to State and local regulatory requirements under § 98.40, health and safety requirements under § 98.41, and payment rates under § 98.45, CCDF funds will not be available to a Lead Agency if State or local rules, procedures or other requirements promulgated for purposes of the CCDF significantly restrict parental choice by:

(1) Expressly or effectively excluding:

(i) Any category of care or type of provider, as defined in § 98.2; or

(ii) Any type of provider within a category of care; or

(2) Having the effect of limiting parental access to or choice from among such categories of care or types of providers, as defined in § 98.2, with the exception of in-home care; or

(3) Excluding a significant number of providers in any category of care or of any type as defined in § 98.2.

(g) As long as provisions at paragraph (f) of this section are met, parental choice provisions shall not be construed as prohibiting a Lead Agency from establishing policies that require providers of child care services for which assistance is provided under this part to meet higher standards of quality, such as those identified in a quality rating and improvement system or other transparent system of quality indicators.

(h) Parental choice provisions shall not be construed as prohibiting a Lead Agency from providing parents with information and incentives that encourage the selection of high-quality child care.

[63 FR 39981, July 24, 1998, as amended at 81 FR 67580, Sept. 30, 2016]

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