The need for subsidized child care assistance far exceeds the availability of program spaces in the county.

Most programs will not have immediate openings, and in order to be considered for future openings in participating CEL programs, you'll need to be placed on the Santa Cruz County CEL. You can do this by contacting the SCCPA Voucher Project (the CEL Administrator) or you may contact the program you are interested in and have them place your family information on the centralized eligibility list and/or their own separate list.

A few programs in our community keep their individual eligibility (waiting) lists because they serve a special population. If there are families they are not able to serve, they will put them on the CEL or refer the family to the CEL. However, when they enroll in their programs, they do not need to take families off of the CEL. The programs that maintain their own lists are:

  • Campus child care programs at Cabrillo College and U.C.S.C.

  • Part-year programs for children of Migrant families

  • The P.A.C.E.- AP program located in San Jose which can place children in Santa Cruz programs.

Also, programs that are not funded through CDD (such as Head Start, Stage One child care, ASES and 21st Century programs for school age children) keep individual lists and enrollment processes.

If any of these programs might meet your family’s need for child care, you should call them directly about their lists, as well as having your information placed on the CEL so you can be considered for other openings.

Please understand that there are over 1,000 children waiting on the Santa Cruz County CEL.  When you are placed on this list you are assigned a rank based on your gross income (before taxes) and the number of individuals in your family, as well as your need for care.

Your rank may place you ahead of other families that have been on the eligibility list for some time. But other families may be ranked ahead of you in the future.

There is no guarantee when participating programs will be able to subsidize your childcare. The number of existing programs and the amount of funding cap the services to a strictly limited number of applying families.  When funds become available, families with the greatest financial need are served first and may be enrolled ahead of families who have been on the list for a longer period of time.

Maximum Income Levels for Subsidized Care
(Please click on your family's gross Monthly Income
 for the number of people in your family)

 or less

 or less

 or less

 or less

 or less

 or less

 or less

1 or 2







Number of Family Members


A family of four earning $4,189 a month qualifies for state preschool while a family of two earning $3,519 a month does not qualify. The family has a greater opportunity of subsidized child care when their family size is greater and their income is lower than other families.