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Kentuckians' co-pays for child care subsidies high

Low-income parents in Kentucky who receive child care subsidies are still paying very high co-payment rates, and the state's eligibility level is among the country's lowest, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Women's Law Center.

The information comes from an analysis called "State Child Care Assistance Policies 2008: Too Little Progress for Children and Families." It compares the child care assistance policies in all 50 states.

The federal government recommends that states set their child care provider reimbursement rates at the 75th percentile of current market rates, which allows families to access three-quarters of the child care providers in their communities.

The report says that although Kentucky reimbursed providers at the recommended levels in 2001, the state currently falls short. Kentucky has set its reimbursement rates at 68 percent of the 2005 price for child care, according to the report.

Low reimbursement rates make it difficult for families to obtain high-quality child care, and they also make it harder for providers to keep their doors open, retain qualified staff or acquire the supplies necessary to promote children's learning, according to a press release from Kentucky Youth Advocates.

The Women's Law Center report says that Kentucky's ranks among the bottom quarter of states on income eligibility to qualify for child care assistance — $25,746 for a family of three (146 percent of the 2008 federal poverty level) as of February 2008.

Kentucky has fallen from 2001 levels, where families who earned 165 percent of the federal poverty level were eligible for subsidies.

"Child care is a vital necessity for many Kentucky families, said Lacey McNary, Deputy Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. "To support working families and give children a strong start, child care must be affordable and of good quality."

The Women's Law Center report can be also be found on Kentucky Youth Advocates Web site: