Parents and advocates say more Kentucky families need to be eligible for child care assistance
09/18/2013 06:10 PM
Parents, grandparents and advocates urged lawmakers on Wednesday to not only restore cuts to childcare subsidy programs but expand them in the next two-year budget.
Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration announced cuts this spring to the child care assistance program and the Kinship Care program that provides money to Kentuckians who are raising children of relatives. Officials blamed the cuts on an $86 million shortfall in the state’s health cabinet. Starting July 1, the eligibility requirements for day care assistance changed from 150 percent below the poverty level — or $2,794 monthly income for a family of four — to only those making below the poverty level, or $1,863 for a family of four.
Those cuts have created hardships and some tough choices for many low income Kentucky families who choose between going to work and having most of their income go for childcare or quit there jobs, stay at home and go on public assistance programs like welfare, several parents testified.
Terry Brooks, executive director of the Kentucky Youth Advocates, told members of the Committee on Health and Welfare that not only is it time to restore the 150 percent below the poverty line income requirements but to raise it.
“What we hope that you as a joint committee will begin to look at is how we can build a budget process for 2014 that doesn’t just restore these cuts but actually raises the eligibility to 200 poverty. We know that is the national standard.”
Christina Stouffer is a single mother of two who said that the child care cuts will have a devastating effect on her ability to provide.
“If I get cut, then I’m going to have to pay $255 for daycare a week for both of my kids and that’s, like, 80 percent on my paycheck,” Stouffer said.
In addition to child care assistance, cuts were made to the Kinship Care Program which offers payments for of up to $300 a month to family providers to meet the needs of children who have been removed from the home due to safety concerns and are living with other family members.
As a result of cuts, no new families have been allowed to participate since April 1. Current families were allowed to continue receiving support.
Sandra Flynn is receiving Kinship Care Assistance since she is raising her five grandchildren whose mother is in and out of jail.
She said the cuts to this program could cost the state more in the fact that the kids could fall into more costly state programs such as mental health care of the state penal system.
Flynn said that it’s been particularly tough for her 12-year-old granddaughter, Willa.
Fynn said the Kinship Care Program can save taxpayers money since the average foster care placement costs the state $70 a day, compared to $10 a day for Kinship Care.
In addition, Kentucky Youth Advocates say that children living with relatives have fewer behavioral and mental health problems, experience fewer educational disruptions and are more likely to stay connected to their siblings and other family networks.
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