Georgia CAPS Program, Requirements, Income Limit, Apply

Georgia CAPS Program helps Georgia citizens by providing childcare assistance to all eligible families if they are fulfilling the CAPS program requirements.

In this article, we will share complete information about the CAPS program, eligibility requirements such as the CAPS Income Limit, how to apply, and submit the CAPS application.

What is the GA CAPS Program?

Georgia Childcare and Parent Services Program also known as CAPS is a federal government-funded program to support low-income families by providing financial support for the child care of the families. Families got support through child care providers through the financial support system.

Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) administered the CAPS program and determined the eligibility criteria and policies. Federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) provides funds for the CAPS program that are distributed to the childcare providers who are helping the children of the participating families.

The CAPS program supports early education goals by assisting low-income families with the cost of child care while they work, go to school or training, or participate in other work-related activities.

Note: To log in, register, account troubleshoot, and apply for CAPS benefits please check the Georgia Gateway Login page.

Also read, Georgia Way2Go Card Login, Balance Check.

Access Program:

Due to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, DECAL started the Access (Awarding Child Care Education Scholarship Supplements) to provide financial support to families who are enrolled in the CAPS program. ACCESS initiative is funded by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).

ACCESS pays the full tuition fee and the Family fee to providers. As per the new update, the Georgia Government Ends the Emergency CAPS Family Fee Policy Waiver.

Now families have to pay the Family Fee and the rest of the amount will be paid through the CAPS program until September 29, 2024. Now families will start paying Family Fee effective from October 2, 2023. Find more

Note: As reported by 11ALive News Child care centers serving low-income children find it difficult to get the reimbursement from Georgia government. Last Fall, The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) took over the producer management function of the Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program from their vendor in November. This shift in the new system created this issue. The issue must be rectified ASAP to release the scholarship to all 2750 centers in Georgia that help more than 73,000 kids receive CAPS.

CAPS Objective:

CAPS program fulfills the below objectives of the government.

  1. Provide high-quality and affordable education to all low-income families.
  2. Support DECAL’s efforts in increasing positive school readiness outcomes.
  3. To provide enough support, training programs, and assistance to families so that they become self-sufficient.

What are Georgia CAPS Eligibility Requirements?

Eligibility will be determined based on the below types of requirements.

  1. Priority Group Status.
  2. Residency.
  3. Child’s age.
  4. Child’s citizenship or qualified alien status.
  5. Immunizations.
  6. Proof of identity.
  7. State-approved activity.
  8. Income Limit

Let’s have a look at each criterion one by one.

1-Priority Group Status:

All new families must be in a priority group to be eligible for CAPS. Their applications will be rejected if they are not in any priority group even if they qualify in other requirements. Priority Group requirement is not applicable for the renewal of CAPS.

The following is a list of the priority groups (in alphabetical order):

  • Child Protective Services (CPS) and court-ordered supervision cases
  • Children in Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) custody
  • Families experiencing domestic violence
  • Families of children with disabilities
  • Families of children enrolled in Georgia’s Pre-K Program
  • Families participating in or transitioning from TANF
  • Families who have experienced a natural disaster
  • Families who lack fixed, regular, and adequate housing
  • Families with very low income as defined by CAPS
  • Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (GRG)
  • Minor parents
  • Need to protect
  • Student parent

For more information, check the GA CAPS Priority Group information to determine if you belong to a priority group or not.


Families must be citizens of Georgia. To support this families must have a driver’s license or identification card; current lease or mortgage statement, current utility bill, etc.

3-Child’s Age:

Children age must be at least 12 years or younger, or 17 years of age or younger with qualifying special needs. To support the age requirements, Birth certificates, court records, U.S. passports, etc can be shared.

4-Child’s Citizenship or Qualified Alien Status:

Participating children must be United States citizens or lawfully admitted qualified aliens. To support this, please share your Birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, U.S. passport, vital records, etc.


Children must participate in the immunization program. To support this, a Georgia Immunization Certificate (Form 3231) or a signed, notarized statement of religious exemption can be shared.

Please note that if you are enrolled in the TANF program then immunization verification is not required for children.

6-Proof of Identity:

A Federal or state-issued identification card, Social Security award letter, or voter registration card must be available to support the identity proof requirements.

7-State-Approved Activity:

There are several state-run employment, training, job search, etc related activities. All Parents are required to participate in these activities for at least 24 hours per week.

Activity requirements do not apply to foster parents and those participating in the Division of Family and Children Services Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.

To support this requirement, families can provide pay stubs, a letter from the employer on business letterhead,  CAPS Self-employment Report,  CAPS Employment Verification, etc.

8-Income Limit:

Income criteria are described below.

CAPS Maximum Income Limits (effective March 1, 2024)

Income limits for CAPS eligibility are set under the income guidelines established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

There are two ways the government determines the Income limit for the CAPS program.

  1. According to Federal Poverty Level (FPL) – The federal poverty level (FPL) guidelines are used to set the income limit for families who qualify for the very low-income priority group.
  2. According to State Median Income (SMI) – The state median income (SMI) guidelines are used to set the income limit for families new to CAPS and ongoing eligibility and redetermination.

The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) Guidelines:

If families want to qualify in the very low-income group then they must fulfill the maximum income limit as per the FPL guidelines. The maximum income limit is 50% of the income set as per the FPL guidelines.

CAPS Maximum Income Limit for very-low-income priority groups are given below.

Family Unit SizeVery Low-Income Priority Group
effective for CAPS on March 1, 2024.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determines the Federal Poverty Guidelines and updates them in the Federal Register periodically.

The threshold for families in the very low-income priority group is 50% of the federal poverty guidelines.

Federal poverty guidelines for the CAPS effective from March 1, 2023, are given in below table.

Persons in the family/householdPoverty guideline

As shown in the above two tables…

  • The maximum income of 1 member family in the poverty status is $14,580 and the income limit for the very low-income group will be 50% of $14,580 which is $7,290.
  • Similarly, The maximum income of 2 member families in the poverty status is $19,720 and the income limit for the very low-income group will be 50% of $14,580 which is $9,860.

The State Median Income (SMI) Guidelines:

The state median income (SMI) guidelines are used to set the income limit for families new to CAPS and ongoing eligibility and redetermination.

SMI is updated before the start of the federal fiscal year (October 1) by the Federal government and CAPS determines the threshold as per the SMI data. SMI data varies from state to state.

Currently, the CAPS income limit for the initial eligibility is 50% of the State Median Income (SMI)

Family Unit SizeInitial Eligibility (50% of SMI)Ongoing Eligibility and Redetermination (85% of SMI)
Effective October 1, 2023

  • As per the “LIHEAP IM 2023-02 State Median Income Estimates for Optional Use in FFY 2023 and Mandatory Use in FFY 2024” the State Median Income (SMI) for 4-Person Family in Georgia state is $95,238.
  • As per the 50% threshold to determine the initial eligibility, the Maximum income limit will be 50% of $95,238 i.e. $47,619 (as shown in the above table).

Ongoing consideration for the new Income Limit:

As per the ongoing eligibility criteria, the 50% threshold limit will be changed to 85%. It will help to cover thousands of new families under the CAPS program. If an 85% threshold is considered then the maximum income limit for a 4-member family will be $80,953 (as shown in the above table).

The government is trying to help more families by providing childcare support that’s why the 85% threshold is proposed.

How to Apply for Georgia CAPS?

Citizens can visit the Georgia Gateway portal and submit their application in an online mode. For more information, please check Georgia CAPS Application-related guidelines, information, and step-by-step process.

GA CAPS Helpline

To get any type of assistance, CAPS participant families can call 1-833-4GA-CAPS (1-833-442-2277).

Why did GA CAPS Start?

CAPS program was started to provide early childhood education to needy families. Early education is a requirement for all Georgia citizens that’s why DECAL started CAPS to partner with childcare providers to help families.

CAPS ensures all children receive high-quality education and families receive a Child Scholarship instead of a child care certificate. The Scholarship Administration unit, in Atlanta interacts with families and enrolls them in high-quality child care programs.

Once a family is approved for the CAPS program, a Family Support Consultant will be assigned to help families and help them access all helpful resources and renew their CAPS program.


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