The chair of the Senate health and welfare committee sympathizes with child care providers and advocates aggrieved by spending cuts to a program that many low-income parents depend on to help with child care costs.
Louisville Republican Julie Denton expressed fear in a Wednesday hearing that children could be endangered, their parents forced to quit work, and some child care centers forced to close if the cuts aren’t reversed. The cuts were made to help the Department for Community Based Services shore up a more than $86 million deficit.
A long-time advocate for consumer, health, and social services, Gerry Roll heads a philanthropic foundation in eastern Kentucky called the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky. She said that Kentucky should not take out its financial woes on its children and lamented that working families will buckle under the weight of an unaffordable, yet necessary expense. Asserting that child care subsidies are part of the infrastructure of the state’s economy, Roll detailed the domino effects of the cuts on a child care operation in her native Perry County.
Jack Burch is executive director of the Community Action Council in Lexington. The CAC serves low-income citizens in Fayette, Bourbon, Harrison and Nicholas counties. Burch decried the child care assistance cuts as the worst action the state government has taken against low-income people in more than three decades. He expounded on the math problem low wage-earning parents will scratch their heads to figure out.
Teresa James, head of the Department for Community Based Services, testified that the decision to cut child care assistance was one of the toughest of her tenure. The state will end the program for new applicants on April 1st and significantly limit eligibility based on income starting in July.
A child care provider in Southern Jefferson County, Kristen Tipton, echoed Gerry Roll’s statement that even cheap child care is cost-prohibitive – especially for families that are hanging by a thread.
A Louisville child care director said child care assistance enabled her to adopt two related boys who otherwise would have gone into foster homes. Lakisha Hopson praised the subsidy as a hand up – as opposed to a handout.
Finally, Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chair Julie Denton minimized the challenge of restoring the shortfall in the state Department of Community Based Services. Denton claims the budget gap may be about $20 million dollars less than anticipated. Her commentary drew applause from the nearly capacity crowd of child care assistance providers and other advocates who also believe that the state agency’s deficit is not that much to overcome in order to guarantee safe, clean, affordable child care to cash-strapped families.
There was only public testimony taken on the issue as it is unrelated to any proposed legislation at this time.
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