Help Paying for Child Care

Effective immediately, the Office of Early Childhood will begin accepting A VERY LIMITED NUMBER of applications for a new extension of the Essential Worker program. We will prioritize the following applicants:

  • Those who live in disaster areas
    • Pulaski County
    • Lonoke County
    • Cross County
  • Those who work in Early Education

The application for this program can be found here:

Submit completed applications and required documentation here:


How to Apply for Child Care Assistance

Every year the State of Arkansas helps low-income families cover the cost of high-quality child care and early childhood education for children ages birth to 12.

To Qualify

Do you…

  • work at least 30 hours a week?
  • attend school full time?
  • spend at least 30 hours a week in a job training program?

A combination of the above qualifications equal to at least 30 hours a week will be considered.

If the answer is “yes,” then you may qualify for child care financial assistance through the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF).

Please fill out the application (Spanish version) for assistance. You can submit the application by emailing the caseworker you are working with, if you have one, or you can drop it by your local DHS county office. You can find your local DHS county office here.

What is the qualifying income?

Use the Sliding Fee Chart to determine your eligibility. Include all earned income from all family members. This will include SSA, SSI, and VA.  Families may be required to pay a percentage of the cost for child care.

If You Do Not Qualify

Contact your local DHS officeor your family support specialist and ask why you didn’t qualify and what other help may be available. Examples: Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA), Early Head Start, Head Start, Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) program.

Selecting the Right Child Care Provider

Every child deserves the best start in life which is why choosing high quality child care is important. Research shows that high quality early learning programs have a positive impact on a child’s readiness for school and life.

To help you make the right child care decision for you and your family, use the resources below:

  • Find Child Care – Don’t just choose a child care center that is close to home or work, choose one that is right for your child. Visit several centers and use the checklist below to discover how each center differs.
  • Find Support – Child Care Aware of Arkansas help parents and families find high-quality child care centers in their community and offers support and guidance.
  • Find Quality – Better Beginnings connects Arkansas families with information and care that helps children experience a safe, happy, and healthy childhood. Each Better Beginnings facility in Arkansas has a 2 or 3 star rating to indicate their level of quality.
  • Find Your Center

Arkansas’s child care programs can serve over 200,000 children.

Arkansas’s Total Child Care Slots

  Facility TypeChild Capacity
  Child Care Centers131,947
  Out of School Time22,138
  Licensed Child Care Family Homes2,728
  Registered Child Care Family Homes45

Arkansas WIC

The purpose of the Arkansas WIC Program (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) is to improve the nutrition of eligible pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and young children during periods of critical growth.

For more information click English or Spanish.

Licensing and Safety

Licensing, Monitoring, and Inspections

Licensed child care facilities must meet specific guidelines to become certified. There are no licensed exempt facilities in Arkansas. All facilities that receive funding are either licensed or registered.

DHS Licensing Specialists will visit facilities and homes unannounced at least three times a year to ensure that each child care facility meets minimum licensing standards While onsite, they may interview and observe staff to determine their daily routine and effectiveness in age-appropriate instruction. Example items Licensing Specialists may review:

  • Personnel Policies
  • Programs
  • Behavior Guidance
  • Records
  • Safety

Visit Better Beginnings and the Arkansas Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education to view facilities and reviews for the last three years.

Health and Safety Requirements

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 requires States and Territories to have professional development, health, and safety training requirements for all Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) providers.  All new and existing providers who accept vouchers for reimbursement must meet the training requirements. VisitCCDBG Health & Safety requirementsfor more information or contact The Child Care Licensing Unit to learn more.

Phone:    501-682-8590
Website: Child Care Licensing

Early & Periodic Screening, Diagnostic & Treatment (EPSDT)

The Early & Periodic Screening, Diagnostic & Treatment (EPSDT) helps ensure that children and teens get preventative dental, mental health, and developmental screenings. It can also help identify any specialty services that may be needed. 

Child care facilities are required by The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to refer a child that may have developmental delays or disabilities to the right agency for help. However, if the child is under the age of 3, the provider should contact First Connections. If the child is 3-21 years of age, the provider should contact the Arkansas Department of Education Special Education Unit for assistance.

Parent/Provider Complaints

If a situation arises that you are unhappy with, it is important to calmly share those concerns with the person(s) who is causing you stress. Working things out, if possible, should be the first step. Keep in mind that changing child care facilities can be stressful on your child.  However, if a resolution cannot be reached or a serious issue has occurred, you may contact OEC using the following link:

Contact OEC

Child Maltreatment Hotline

The Arkansas Department of Human Services is committed to protecting those who are most vulnerable. If you suspect that a child is being maltreatmented based on something you have witnessed, or a child has told you that maltreatment is happening, it is your responsibility to report it to the authorities.

Call the Arkansas Child Maltreatment Hotline at 1-800-482-5964.

Aggregate Data

OEC strives to ensure that every child in Arkansas is in a high quality, safe, and loving environment. This is achieved by offering resources, technical assistance, and trainings for families and providers.

Child Deaths, Serious Injuries, and Substantiated Child Maltreatment 2022

ProvidersChild DeathsSerious InjuriesSubstantiated Cases of Child Maltreatment*Total
Registered Child Care Family Home0011
Licensed Child Care Family Home0033
Child Care Center0126139265
Out of School Time0213

*Substantiated instances of child abuse do not have to be separated by category of provider and licensing status.

Consumer Statement

Lead Agencies must provide CCDF parents with a consumer statement that contains specific information about the child care provider they select. This information about the child care provider selected by the parent includes health and safety requirements met by the provider, any licensing or regulatory requirements met by the provider, the date the provider was last inspected, any history of violations of these requirements, and any voluntary quality standards met by the provider. It must also describe how CCDF subsidies are designed to promote equal access, how to submit a complaint through a hotline, and how to contact local resource and referral agencies or other community-based supports that assist parents in finding and enrolling in quality child care.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about child care in Arkansas, please contact us.  We will be happy to assist you. Call: 501-682-8947 or 1-800-322-8176