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Editorial: Cuts to child-care program jeopardize working families

Nov. 14, 2012 @ 06:59 AM

A policy research organization raises some valid points regarding West Virginia's cuts to child-care assistance for lower-income families.

The bottom line, according to a new report by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, is that the reductions will jeopardize those residents' ability to keep their jobs or continue their schooling.

The state announced in June that it would freeze enrollment in the assistance program, sharply increase participating families' co-payments and raise the income requirements for eligibility. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin chose to block the enrollment freeze, but the other cuts are still in place.

As a result, the co-payment of a single mother earning $15,130 a year, or 100 percent of the poverty level as defined by the federal government, rose from $29 a month to $115 a month, the center reported. That's $1,032 more in a year's time, a hard blow to a household making that kind of money. In addition, more than 800 West Virginia families will be bumped from the program on Jan. 1 when new income guidelines kick in.

The net savings for the state is $7.5 million a year. But what does that do to the affected families?

Child-care costs can range up to more than $6,000 a year per child -- a significant cost that most lower-income families simply can't afford. Does it make sense to make it tougher for lower-income families to remain on the job or to get the schooling to become a stronger member of the state's work force?

We urge the governor and lawmakers to rethink these reductions and find a way to restore funding for this valuable assistance to families trying to make a go of it.

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