Critics of the state’s cuts to two programs benefiting thousands of Kentucky children are turning their focus to next year’s General Assembly session.
Earlier this year, the state Department for Community Based Services implemented drastic cuts to the Kinship Care and Child Care Assistance programs because of a budget shortfall. The programs give financial assistance to low-income working families to help cover child care costs.
Kentucky Youth Advocates director Terry Brooks said families affected by the cuts will share their stories with legislators Wednesday during a meeting of a legislative committee that has the power to block the cuts. But Brooks said that’s unlikely—and even if it did, Gov. Steve Beshear could implement the cuts anyway.
So they plan to begin asking legislators to consider not only restoring the cut funds, but adding to them in the 2014 General Assembly session. The formula used to determine who qualified for CCAP used to be 150-percent of the federal poverty level, but the cuts dropped it to 100-percent.
Next year, opponents of the cuts will ask legislators to change the qualifications to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
“Working folks who still live in poverty, they need these supports," Brooks said. "So we’re not content simply with a restoration of what was cut, we want a fresh look at what these programs provide in the economy we find ourselves in.”
Child advocates say the cuts are forcing parents to quit jobs and enroll in welfare benefits, or to rely on unsafe unregulated day care options.
Brooks said as a result, parents will quit their jobs and enroll in welfare programs that are more expensive. Or they’ll begin relying on unregulated underground day cares. Either way, Brooks predicts that day cares will close, costing jobs.
“We want to begin making sure that legislators understand that in a lot of ways both of these cuts have not just an impact on kids and families, but it really is an economic development argument," Brooks said.