CHARLESTON — An estimated 800 families with approximately 1,400 children among them will be affected by cuts to child-care subsidies by the WV State Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), slated to take effect in Jan. of 2013.
Eligible families will also face higher co-pays beginning Aug 1. The co-payments will more than double, rising from 5 to 12 percent. Between the cuts to those who are eligible and the increase in the co-pay amounts, the state expects to save nearly $8 million per year.
The child-care cuts will affect families whose income is between 150 and 185 percent of the federal poverty rate. Based on the reported rate for this year, a family of four who make between $33,525 and $41,348 a year would lose their child-care subsidies under the cuts.
Families who get assistance will see the changes when they recertify with the state. These redeterminations happen every six months from the date the families are first eligible to receive benefits.
A spokesman for the Charleston office of the W.Va. DHHR said that everyone who is currently receiving assistance with child-care costs will continue to do so until at least January of 2013. The representative said that unlike other states, they are extending the six month warning as a courtesy to allow them to prepare for the eligibility changes.
Families will not be the only ones who feel the effect of the decrease in subsidies, childcare centers that have a large majority of their costs paid by the state for care for children enrolled in their program could possible close their doors, according to the state spokesman.
Speculation is this scenario will also create a drop in early education opportunities for children that could have a lasting affect when they become school age, placing them behind others on the academic scale that did attend childcare and who were extended the opportunity to learn at an early age.
The cuts are to make up for the depletion of a $58 million carryover in federal funding known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). W.Va. received approximately $110 million yearly from these funds. For a number of years, the state did not spend the entire amount each year, and had built up a surplus of $58 million by 2008.
Since then, the surplus has been used for child-care and social services and has now been depleted.
In 2011, more than 24,000 children received childcare services at a cost of around $5 million in state funds and $50 million in federal funding. The number of children grew from around 23,000 and a total state and federal cost of $45 million in 2009.
State childcare advocates have argued childcare subsidies allow parents to work and that it should be easier for the state to fund childcare than to pay the costs of supporting the family through welfare.
The W.Va. State Bureau for Children and Families (another part of the DHHR) is also cutting more than $9.5 million in grants, including a $2.5 million grant for the Department of Education for expanding a summer