Local families facing cuts in childcare
by Nathan Jeffers
MASON COUNTY — For many working parents in today’s society, child care is a must, and several families and local organizations are facing potential cuts in their funding from the state of West Virginia.
Set to begin on Aug. 1, it was reported the eligibility for low income families to receive subsidies from the state for child care services will decrease. Those currently receiving childcare services will still continue to receive the services, but face an increase in copayments from five percent to 12 percent. Also taking place on Aug. 1, it was stated that any new applications for child care programs will be frozen, with the exception of families that are receiving cash assistance through WVWORKS, foster families, families receiving child care due to a child protective service case, and families receiving court-ordered child care.
The changes in child care are planned to continue and as of Jan. 2013, it was reported that families that have an income greater than 150 percent above the poverty level will not be eligible to receive a state child care subsidy. According to a release from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, families with an income greater than $2,794 a month will not be eligible for a child care supplement.
Some of the local child care organizations affected will include Early Education Station and Magic Years. Statewide groups affected will also include West Virginia Association for Young Children (WVAYC), West Virginia Childcare Centers United (WVCCU), and Regional Director’s Association (RDA).
It was reported the cuts in child care will also have a ripple effect and affect more than just children. The lack of child care could result in working parents losing their jobs and there would be an increase in costs of unemployment and welfare, as well as decreasing the tax base. Those employed at child development programs could also potentially lose their jobs.
“The repercussions from cuts of this magnitude will be far-reaching, decreasing the quality and availability of child care services for all families needing child care service, negatively impacting economic development and increasing the drain of our best and brightest young people from the state,” said Judy Curry, retired WV state employee, the former Director of DHHR’s Division of Early Care and Education. “Quality child care services are just as essential as jobs to attract young families to the state and to keep young families from leaving. Recent losses of higher-income jobs and the switch from an industrial to a service economy, means that it increasingly takes both parents working to sustain a living wage. Child care is essential to those families. Child care subsidies are a good investment, supporting not only low-income families and children but the supply of care for all families and the economy as a whole, increasing the potential workforce by allowing both parents of young children to be employed and increasing their income. Subsidies also support employers whose profit margins do not allow for salaries sufficient to attract working parents, such as fast food restaurants and retail sales establishments and even child care centers themselves.”
For those wishing to speak up and have their voice heard on this issue, it was reported there is a rally scheduled for 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, at the Capitol building in Charleston. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, as well as Rocco Fucillo of the DHHR Health and Human Services, Doug Robinson with the DHHR Bureau for Children and Families, and Bill Mahoney, candidate for governor will be asked to address the crowd at the rally.
Concerned citizens are also encouraged to contact elected officials on July 25. The state capitol building may be contacted at 1-888-438-2731. Citizens can also find contact information for their local legislator by searching your zip code at www.legis.state.wv.us/Districts/district_zip./zipmems.cfm
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