FRANKFORT - Thousands of Kentucky families are facing a child care crisis as the state drastically reduces the number of children it will help support. Beginning today, the income-eligibility cutoff for child care assistance drops from 150 percent to 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
Mary Ann Mullins, a grandmother from Hazard, said she’s worried about her grandkids. Her son and daughter-in-law work full-time and so does she.
“I honestly don’t know what he will do,” Mullins said. “I don’t know that he can afford $200 a week for child care. I’m just beside myself, actually.”
Mullins said that with assistance her son had only been paying $25 a week for the care of his two kids, ages three and five.
The state estimates 8700 families could lose their child care assistance, cuts which could affect some 14,300 children.
According to the executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, Terry Brooks, with the cuts Kentucky now has the lowest eligibility rate in the nation.
“They’re bad for kids, they’re bad for families and the real untold story is that in the long term they’re going to be bad for Kentucky’s budget,” he declared. “So, it’s a classic lose, lose, lose situation.”
Governor Steve Beshear said the child-care cuts, which amount to nearly $87 million, were made after exhausting all available options. He said comprehensive tax reform is needed to help Kentucky’s children and their education.
Kentucky Youth Advocates, which Brooks heads, is urging people to call the governor’s office to ask him to restore the child care cuts. The message to Governor Beshear: “Reverse your decision.”
Brooks declared: “The kind of money that we’re talking about here is table change when you look at the state budget.”
The tougher eligibility standards come on top of a three-month freeze on adding any new families to the child care assistance rolls. That alone affected some 1600 families a month.