(1) In addition to the income requirements of ARM 37.80.202, the following nonfinancial requirements must be met in order for payments under this chapter to be made:
(a) With the exceptions in (1)(b), parents must work the following minimum number of hours each month:
(i) for two-parent households, parents must work a total of 120 hours per month, but there is no minimum number of hours which each parent must work each month; or
(ii) for single parent households:
(A) the parent must be working a minimum of 60 hours each month; or
(B) the parent must be working a minimum of 40 hours each month if attending school or training full-time; or
(C) the parent must be working a minimum of 60 hours each month if attending school or training part-time.
(b) The monthly minimum hourly work requirement does not apply to:
(i) households receiving cash assistance funded by temporary assistance for needy families (TANF);
(ii) households in which the parent is a teen parent, or both parents in a two-parent household are teen parents, attending high school or an equivalency program;
(iii) households containing working parents who are experiencing short-term medical emergencies;
(iv) households containing parents who lost a job either in the current month or in the month just preceding the current month, provided the parents:
(A) are actively seeking work;
(B) have reported the change in circumstance in a timely manner in accordance with ARM 37.80.203; and
(C) have applied for a grace period and have been approved;
(v) an individual parent with a severe disability who is not able to meet a minimum hourly work requirement and has a need for child care during work hours;
(vi) a parent, in a two-parent household, who is severely disabled and unable to care for their child; and
(vii) in extreme circumstances of verifiable medical, financial, and physical hardship, a decision to approve eligibility or continued eligibility in cases not otherwise meeting the required eligibility standards can be made by either the Child Care Program manager or the chief of the Early Childhood Services Bureau. Approval decisions will be based on how the hardship impacts the family and whether the family would likely meet the eligibility criteria for child care assistance when the hardship is no longer present.
(2) Households which are not receiving cash assistance funded by TANF may be eligible for child care assistance under this chapter while a parent is participating in education or training reasonably expected to lead to gainful employment if:
(a) either the parent or another adult who is included in the calculation of household size as provided in ARM 37.80.202 meets the minimum hourly work requirement provided in this rule; or
(b) the minimum hourly work requirement is waived while a parent participates in a full-time field experience, or a full-time combination of field experience and course work, required for graduation in the parent's curriculum.
(3) Child care assistance under this chapter for parents who are pursuing training or education is subject to the following limitations:
(a) assistance is not available to parents seeking postsecondary education beyond the level of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, except that assistance may be provided while a parent is participating in training which lasts no more than six weeks if the department or its designated agent determines that such training has a high probability of leading to employment in the near future;
(b) assistance is not available for education and training to a parent who has earned an educational certificate or degree within the past five years;
(c) the training is for the purpose of obtaining employment in a recognized occupation in which job openings exist in Montana;
(d) the training is obtained through an institution approved by the Board of Regents or other recognized accrediting body; and
(e) the parent must verify that he or she is making satisfactory progress in the training or education as defined by the training or educational institution or by the department.
(4) If a birth or adoptive parent of a child does not live with the child and is not paying child support under a child support order recognized by a Montana district court, the custodial parent must apply for and cooperate with child support enforcement services from the department's Child Support Enforcement Division. The department determines cooperation with Child Support Enforcement Division by maintaining an open case when a case can be established or by the parent providing all appropriate requested documentation to Child Support Enforcement Division for them to open a child support case. A custodial parent who fails without good cause to apply for such services and to cooperate with the Child Support Enforcement Division will be decertified for benefits under this chapter as of the date of such failure. Good cause is defined as specified in ARM 37.78.215.
(5) The parents may apply for authorization/reauthorization under this chapter at a child care resource and referral agency.
(6) Due to limited funding for child care assistance, some households which meet all requirements for eligibility may not receive benefits. If there are insufficient funds to provide benefits to all eligible households, priority for benefits will be determined as follows:
(a) A household receiving assistance funded by the TANF program is guaranteed needed child care when participating in family investment agreement activities which require child care, subject to the following:
(i) Assistance for care provided by a provider certified by the department will begin the date that the TANF participant parent is referred to a child care resource and referral agency to obtain child care assistance, so long as the participant contacts the resource and referral agency within ten calendar days after the date the referral is made.
(ii) If the parent does not contact the child care resource and referral agency within ten calendar days after being referred for TANF child care assistance, eligibility for child care assistance will begin on the date a child care certification plan is obtained from the child care resource and referral agency.
(b) Households containing a child with special needs are guaranteed child care when otherwise eligible for child care assistance under ARM 37.80.201 through 37.80.502.
(c) Households headed by a teen parent are guaranteed child care when otherwise eligible for child care assistance under subchapters 2, 3, and 5.
(d) All other eligible non-TANF households shall be prioritized by ranking household income as a percentage of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). The household with the lowest percentage of income, relative to FPG, has the highest priority when funding becomes available.
(e) If there are two or more non-TANF households at the same level of priority as set forth in (6)(d), the household whose application was received first has a higher priority.
(7) Under no circumstances may payment be made for child care provided by a parent or person acting in loco parentis of the child, even if such parent does not reside in the child's household. In addition, no payment under this chapter may be made for child care provided by any person who is included as a member of the same household as the child for purposes of determining eligibility for TANF cash assistance or child care assistance under this chapter.
(8) Payment may only be made for care provided during the time both parents or, in single parent households, the parent, and any other adult included in calculating household size under this chapter, are required to be out of the home to attend work or training. Brief care or eligibility interruptions may be accommodated under continuity of care policies, as established in the department's Child Care Manual, section 6-6. A copy of section 6-6 of the manual may be obtained from the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Human and Community Services Division, Early Childhood Services Bureau, 111 N. Jackson St., P.O. Box 202925, Helena, MT 59620-2952.
(9) A household experiencing unemployment due to good cause as defined in ARM 37.78.508 may have child care benefits extended and the usual child care schedule continued for 30 calendar days following the job loss, if the following conditions are met:
(a) the department has sufficient funds to provide extended child care benefits;
(b) the household requests the extension within ten calendar days after the parent's last day of employment; and
(c) the unemployed parent or parents must actively seek new employment during the period of extended child care.
(10) Child care assistance is only available under this chapter for child care provided by:
(a) a legally certified provider who is certified under this chapter; or
(b) a licensed or registered child care facility certified under this chapter.
(11) Any licensed or registered child care provider is not eligible for child care assistance for children who fall within the age groups traditionally serviced by the public school system, or alternately a private or home school and who are attending said school for educational purposes during traditional school hours are not eligible for child care payments. The department will not pay for a child during normal school hours when a child is home schooled.