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Low-Income Families Hit by State Cuts to Child Care

Fewer families across Kentucky will get assistance from the state for child care purposes. The Kentucky Department of Community Based Services announced last week that it's facing a more than $86-million budget shortfall and is addressing that with severe cuts to the subsidies that help low-income families pay for child care. 

The Courier-Journal reports:

Audrey Tayse Haynes, secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the cuts come after years of attempts to cope with decreased federal and state funding while caseloads and needs grow.

But there are no more opportunities to cut back in areas that do not directly affect families, she said.

“We’ve used every trick in the book,” Haynes said.

In Northern Kentucky, that means a challenge for families that use the services of organizations like Covington-based Children, Inc. An administrator at the facility tells The River City News that hundreds of its children will be affected as well as thirty-percent of kids across Kentucky. The subsidies help pay for child care and enrollment at Children, Inc centers.

The Child Care Assistance Program is designed to assist parents who work but whose income may not be enough to cover the expense of child care. Starting on April 1, the program will no longer take new applications until at least the end of June in 2014. The Courier-Journal reports that that change is expected to save $38.4 million.

WFPL reports:

Incredulous, child advocates argue the measures will have deep, long-range effects on Kentucky's children—none of them good, some of them dangerous.

"What we know is that access to quality childcare is an essential part of lifting up low-income families," said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. "It's not some luxury, it's not icing on the cake. We know that if I'm a low-income kid, getting quality childcare—getting a quality preschool experience—is really a door-opener for me once I get into school. It impacts health outcomes. It impacts education outcomes.

"So what's really unfortunate: Not only for the youngsters being impacted and the family's being impacted, we're really cheating Kentucky's future."

Kentucky’s Voice for Early Childhood members sent messages to more than five-thousand professionals and parents asking them to send emails to the governor protesting the cuts. Hundreds have already been sent. Community Coordinated Child Care (4C) in Louisville sent messages to eight-thousand supporters last week and another 4C office set up a website with a petition to the governor: SignOn.org - Why Promote Unemployment?-Give Us Our 4-C Back! Community Action in Lexington has sent out emails across central Kentucky also and that group was able to get the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government to pass a resolution last week opposing the cuts. 

"These cuts are going to hurt too many families," writes one local child care administrator in an e-mail obtained by The River City News. "The Cabinet needs to rethink its position. If it cannot or will not, then we need to ask the legislature to approve additional funding in this session. We have a shot at getting something done if we keep the momentum going."

Child care providers and advocates are working to get their message into the media and intend to visit the state legislature on Thursday for Children's Advocacy Day. 

Here are statistics on how NKY counties may be affected by the cuts:

County

Total Capacity Licensed Centers

Total Capacity Certified FCC

Total

Capacity

Total CCAP Participants Enrolled

% Total capacity are CCAP Participants

Boone

7488

78

7566

851

11%

Campbell

3627

78

3705

833

22%

Carroll

168

6

174

21

12%

Grant

554

54

608

248

41%

Gallatin

193

6

199

98

49%

Kenton

8089

258

8347

1836

22%

Owen

103

0

103

7

7%

Pendleton

350

24

374

80

21%

Totals

20572

504

21076

3974

19%

 

Source: Stats provided to RCN

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Children Inc. building in Covington