Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration has taken a welcome step back from freezing enrollment in a day care subsidy program important to many low-income parents in the state.
Now we’ll have to see whether he and West Virginia lawmakers will find a way to step back further from some of the funding cuts still in the works for the program — something the governor now says he’ll do.
The Department of Health and Human Resources announced in late June that it would trim $8 million from the program that helps provide day care to 24,000 children of low-income parents. Among the steps was, effective Aug. 1, to stop enrollment of any new participants except children in state custody or in families receiving welfare. In addition, participating families would have to contribute more to the cost of the day care service, and gradually taking 1,400 children out of the program because their families’ incomes were higher than new, lower limits set by the agency.
Tomblin said the plan to freeze new enrollment in the program would be dropped, although the other two parts of the plan remain in effect for now.
The cutbacks presumably had to do with preparing for expected higher Medicaid costs in coming years and the exhaustion of reserve funds used to provide the subsidy to the working poor having income levels above 150 percent of the poverty level. Critics of the move rightly pointed out that the state still is sitting on a hefty rainy day fund, and the state has had no qualms about cutting taxes for business.
Of course, reducing business taxes is part of an economic development strategy to help employers in the state as well as attract new ones. That’s important. But what about the other part of the equation, those who are employed?
The day care subsidy program is mostly used by single mothers who are employed or are in school to gain job skills. … Without the subsidy, many would have to make a hard decision about whether they could afford to work. That doesn’t help the state’s unemployment picture, could remove good employees from the workforce and hamper the state’s much-needed workforce development efforts. …
— Distributed by The Associated Press