A41_3292Good news! Several family-friendly improvements that will increase access to child care go into effect September 1, 2016.

1. More families are now eligible for child care assistance.

Thanks to Governor Bevin and the Kentucky General Assembly, income limits for child care assistance are increasing to 160 percent of the current federal poverty level, up from 150 percent of the 2011 federal poverty level. This means that a family of 4 making up to $38,880 will now be able to receive help paying for child care. By our estimates, 31,000 additional children might be eligible for assistance, (though only a fraction of eligible children normally participate). This increased eligibility will make it possible for more parents to work and contribute to their local economies. It also means that more children can benefit from safe, quality learning environments that child care centers can provide.

2. Provisions to support continuity of care for kids go into effect.

Children whose parents lose their jobs, are on break from college or other educational training, or are on maternity or medical leave will have a grace period of 90 days in which they can keep their child care assistance. This means children will be allowed to remain with their teachers and classmates and keep their established routines during a time of family upheaval. It also means that parents will be able to conduct job search or address their health issues while knowing their children are being cared for in a safe environment.

3. Children enrolled in the child care assistance program will be eligible for 12 months.

Children who enroll in the child care assistance program will be able to keep their eligibility for an entire year, regardless of a modest increase in their parents’ earnings or a brief period of unemployment. This provision means that parents will not be penalized for getting a raise at work, or finding a better paying job. As long as household income is under 85 percent of State Median Income, currently $36,514, they will continue to be eligible for child care assistance. It also means that temporary job loss will not make child care completely unaffordable, giving families needed time to bounce back.

4. Homeless families who apply for child care will be expedited into the program and given a grace period of 90 days to submit needed verification paperwork.

This measure recognizes the distinct challenges that face homeless families, allowing them to receive services while they take steps to comply with immunization and other health and safety requirements.

These changes are welcomed news for Kentucky families! Please help us spread the word to ensure that eligible parents are aware of these changes to the child care assistance program.

You can find the relevant new regulations at 922 KAR 2:160. Child Care Assistance Program.