Stretching the dollar: State changes to childcare subsidy eligibility disadvantage families

Photo courtesy of Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe County

Guest columnist Jodi Ford, outreach and engagement coordinator for Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County, explains why recent changes to the state’s legislature disadvantages programs in place for low-income families with children.

For working parents and their children, the child care subsidy program at Children First/CIS promotes and provides opportunities for success.

The program provides a voucher to help with the costs of early childcare, preschool and after-school learning programs for income-eligible parents who either work or attend school. This helps lower-wage parents stay in the workforce and simultaneously provides high-quality, dependable care and learning environments for their kids.

Recently, the North Carolina legislature changed the way the state determines eligibility for childcare subsidies, and thousands of low-income families across N.C., especially those with school-age children, are having to make difficult choices. The funding for nearly 12,000 school-age children will be removed, according to the N.C. General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division.

Under the old system, parents with children under 13 qualified for assistance if they earned less than 75 percent of the state median income — about $50,244 for a family of four.  The new program is now tied to the federal poverty level, so now a family of four, with children under the age of 6, can’t make more than $47,700.

And it’s even stricter for children ages 6 to 12. The income for a family of four can’t exceed $31,721, which breaks down to about $2,643 a month before taxes. The state budget also increased the copay families need to contribute to receive the subsidy to 10 percent of their monthly income.

Local nonprofit Children First/CIS created a video highlighting these changes to the childcare subsidy program, and how it has affected one working mother, Kim Akbar, who spoke at the YWCA as part of Just Economics VOICES for Economic Justice. To find out how you can advocate for low-income working families, go to www.childrenfirstcisbc.org or click here for more information on child care subsidies.

About Children First/ CIS

Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County is a local nonprofit that provides programs to economically disadvantaged children & families. Children First’s mission is to empower children and their families to reach their full potential through advocacy, education and services. The mission of Communities In Schools is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

To find out more, visit childrenfirstcisbc.org or call 786-2072.

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