Labor Day Brings Difficulties For Rhode Island's Working Parents
Sep 04, 2007
This Labor Day was hard hitting for some of Rhode Island's working parents. As reported in the Providence Journal, nearly 2,000 children lost child care assistance beginning on September 1. This summer, the Rhode Island state budget included a change to the state's income eligibility for child care assistance. The legislation decreased the income eligibility level from 225 percent of federal poverty to 180 percent of federal poverty. The policy change was enacted to save Rhode Island $7.6 million by dropping assistance for working families who earn between $31,000 and $38,000. This is particularly concerning, as Rhode Island has long been the only state to guarantee child care assistance to working families.
With the high costs of child care, many of these families will likely struggle to find quality child care they can afford without a subsidy. When families are not able to access child care assistance they face difficult choices in their household budgets, for example, between paying for child care or paying for rent or clothes.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) allows states to set their own income eligibility limits for assistance, up to 85 percent of State Median Income. Most states have set their income eligibility levels far below that threshold. As of early 2006, a family earning $33,200 a year for a family of three (200 percent of poverty in 2006) would not qualify for child care assistance in nearly 75 percent of the states.