Advocates organize State Call-In Day to speak out against the cuts to children’s programs
On Monday, July 1, the state is set to reduce the income eligibility for families to receive child care assistance from 150 percent of the federal poverty level to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, making Kentucky’s eligibility rate the lowest in the nation. According to state estimates, these cuts will immediately cause 8,700 families to lose child care assistance each month and impact 14,300 children. This round is the latest in a series of cuts to both the Child Care Assistance Program and the Kinship Care Program.
Since April 1, no new families have been able to receive child care assistance which has impacted about 1,600 families per month. In addition, families can no longer apply for the Kinship Care Program, which provides financial support to non-parental, relative caregivers, like grandparents. This is estimated to impact about 330 children per month. The Beshear Administration contends that the cuts will help fill an $86.6 million budget shortfall in the Department for Community Based Services, where these programs are housed. However, the cuts are only set to save 0.4 percent of the state budget and will likely cause increases in costs to other state programs including welfare and unemployment.
The July 1 cuts to child care eligibility will impact people like Whitney Costner from Northern Kentucky. Ms. Costner is a mother of two children ages 3 and 7 who works full-time. The July 1 cuts will increase the amount she spends on child care from $90 per week to over $200 per week.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I have to make the decision to either pay for child care or put gas in my car to get to work,” said Ms. Costner. “It seems like the state wants to keep you in poverty rather than providing assistance that helps you get ahead.”
Mary Ann Mullins from Hazard, Kentucky is also deeply concerned with how the cuts will impact her family. The cuts will increase the amount her son spends on child care for her grandchildren from $25 per week to $200 per week, which he cannot afford. Ms. Mullin’s son works in an apprentice electrician program. If is he able to complete this program, he will be a master electrician and be able to provide well for his family.
“Without child care assistance, I don’t know if my son will be able to continue with his education,” said Ms. Mullins. “What will he do? What kind of future will my grandchildren have?”
Ms. Mullin’s daughter, now a registered nurse also received child care assistance while she was in school to obtain her nursing license.
“My daughter is a prime example of the positive impact child care assistance has on families. Now that she is a nurse, she is a private pay client for child care, private pay client for medical care, no longer relies on food stamps for groceries, and pays state taxes on her wages,” added Ms. Mullins. “Are these cuts really going to save the state budget? I think not. But helping people to get ahead and better themselves does and will help.”
In response to the latest cuts, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Kentucky’s Voice for Early Childhood, Community Coordinated Child Care and others are organizing a State Call-In Day on Monday, July 1. They encourage parents, caregivers, child care providers and other advocates to call Governor Beshear on Monday at 502-564-2611 and ask him to make restoring cuts to the Child Care Assistance and Kinship Care Programs a priority during the special legislative session.
People are also encouraged to tweet about restoring the cuts using the hashtag #nocuts2kids on Monday.
“Kentucky kids can’t wait until 2014 for these cuts to be restored,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “Governor Beshear needs to step up and make restoring these cuts a priority during the special legislative session. Citizens can make a difference for our kids by calling in and challenging the Governor to match his rhetoric about kids with real action on behalf of kids.”