Fewer Parents Eligible for Child Care Subsidies
May 29, 2010 | By Meredith Moss | Dayton Daily News | Link to article
Fewer parents eligible for child care subsidies
State cuts force families to make difficult decisions for children.
DAYTON - To earn more money to support her family, 22-year-old Clarrissa Moore took on a second job.
That decision turned out to be a disastrous one for the Dayton mother and her 3-year-old son, Jaiden.
Not only did the extra job put her over the limit for child care help, but it was simply too exhausting.
By the time she resigned, and then reapplied for the child care subsidies she needed, she was turned down. The state income requirements had changed and Moore was no longer eligible.
Moore is just one example of Ohioans being impacted by state budget cuts that took effect in July 2009.
The cuts included a bill that reduced the amount allocated for subsidized child care costs for working parents and the elimination of the Early Learning Initiative, a partnership between the Ohio Department of Education and the state's Department of Job and Family Services.
"Ohio has made significant cuts to its Early Childhood programs over the past few years, as a result many families who are eligible for help cannot get it and they make difficult choices between child care, food, housing, heat and other costs," said Danielle Ewen of the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C.
The eligibility threshold for subsidized child care was lowered from 200 percent to 150 percent of the federal poverty level. A family of two, for example, could previously have earned up to $2,429 a month; now that same family can earn up to $1,822 per month. Families between the two percentages already receiving aid were grandfathered in.
The ELI changes, said Dionne Simmons of the Kinship Navigator program, also resulted in the elimination of child care support for grandparents raising their grandchildren.
The average weekly cost for child care in a child care center in Ohio in 2009 was $185 for an infant, and $165 for a toddler.
Ben Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said it was a difficult budget process and difficult decisions had to be made.
Johnson said in December 2008, before the cuts, 110,211 children in all programs were served. By December 2009 the number dropped to 104,529.
Families who no longer qualify for subsidies may end up quitting their jobs, according to Barbara Turpin, a policy advocate for Kids Count and the Children's Defense Fund of Ohio. She also said some people get a second job, which results in less time with the children, taking a lesser paying job or placing their children in child care settings that may not be as safe but are more affordable.
"In some cases, the child has been left with the mother's boyfriend (non-parent) which has resulted in injury or death," she said.
Clarrissa Moore, who receives a small reduction in the cost of her child care because she works at the Dayton Christian Center that her son attends, describes her situation as "overwhelming."
"It's living from paycheck to paycheck," she said. "You definitely have to cut back on food; maybe you don't wash clothes one week."