Child care program for the poor will receive more funding beginning Aug. 4, governor announces

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comJune 20, 2014 

Lyric Thompson, 5, left, and Jashari Green, 4, played at the Russell Center in this 2013 file photo. The state cuts in child care assistance subsidies affected preschools like the Community Action Council's Russell Center. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER Buy Photo

Gov. Steve Beshear announced late Friday that a program that helps working parents pay for child care will receive more funding beginning Aug. 4. Beshear also announced that he would increase the income eligibility for the program from 125 percent of the federal poverty level to 140 percent, which means more parents will be eligible for child care assistance once the program is reopened.

The news came less than a day after the Cabinet for Health and Family Services told the Herald-Leader that they thought that funding for the program would be restored sometime between Aug. 1 and Sept. 1.

Child care providers and parents have expressed frustration that the state has not communicated how the funding would be restored. Many believed the funding to the program would be restored July 1, the first day of the fiscal year.

Cabinet officials said there was a delay because they were trying to figure out how to use the money allocated to the program to increase the income threshold to get into the program. The legislature gave the program $38.6 million in the coming fiscal year and $58.1 million in the following fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2015.

Beshear said the income guidelines would rise back to 150 percent of the federal poverty level on July 1, 2015.

"By restoring funding and raising eligibility for the coming year, we are pledging our support to our families despite ongoing budget cuts and shortfalls," Beshear said in a written statement.

Faced with an $86 million shortfall, the cabinet froze any new applications to the child care assistance program starting in April 2013. In July 2013, the income guidelines dropped from 150 percent of the poverty level to 100 percent of the poverty level. Nearly 14,000 kids were cut from the program in the first six months of the cuts. Hundreds of child care centers also closed.

By increasing eligibility to 140 percent of the federal poverty level on Aug. 4, the program is expected to serve about 31,000 children in 17,000 families each month by the end of the upcoming fiscal year. The cabinet said Friday that it will be sending out information to child care providers soon outlining the application process.

Beth Musgrave: (859) 231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall.

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