Huge Win for AZ Child Care System-DES Provider Rate Adjustments!
On Friday, March 24th, the Department of Economic Security (DES) shared a message with early childhood educators throughout Arizona announcing new, exciting updates for the early childhood system statewide.
These improvements are important to continue to strengthen Arizona's early childhood system. The updates include DES provider rate adjustments, an education workforce scholarship program, and targeted childcare provider grants. These improvements will facilitate greater access to high-quality childcare, supports for the early childhood workforce including providers, and incentives for new providers to contract with DES or become a DES Certified Family Child Care provider.
Effective April 1, 2023, the DES Division of Child Care will implement a rate increase for all DES childcare providers through June 30, 2024. The reimbursement rate for infants will increase to the 75th percentile of the 2022 Market Rate Survey, and district rates will change to one statewide rate for each age group by care setting. These changes will bring most rates to the cost of providing care at the minimum health and safety standards, and to the cost of high-quality care when including the enhanced quality reimbursement rate of 50 percent.
Historically, childcare reimbursement rates have usually been calculated by geography and age, resulting in rural providers receiving reimbursement at devastatingly low rates. This adjustment will create a level playing field throughout the state, with potential triple reimbursement rates for providers in rural and underserved communities.
We would like to give special thanks to the Arizona Early Childhood Alliance (AZECA) Leadership team for their collaboration with DES in reviewing and making priority recommendations on how Arizona could most effectively distribute the remaining CCDF relief funding. These changes will serve as mechanisms to sustain the Arizona early childhood system and strengthen Arizona families statewide.