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Care4Kids - Connecticut's child care subsidy program for low-income families - is facing a serious crisis. The state Office of Fiscal Analysis recently reported that despite eligibility cuts in August, there is a potential deficiency in the program. This issue was also addressed at a meeting of the state's Early Childhood Cabinet, and reported on in articles in CTNewsJunkie and CT Mirror. The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance strongly opposes further eligibility cuts. We must not balance the deficit on the backs of children by cutting families from the program. We must prioritize keeping children out of poverty.
New requirements from the federal Child Care Development Block Grant reauthorization lengthened the amount of time a family can be enrolled in Care4Kids. These new requirements are good in that they provide children more stability in their child care arrangements, however, the changes were not accompanied with the necessary funding to pay for them. Connecticut has been slashing eligibility in order to absorb these new requirements within our budget. But, this cannot go on. Too many children and families who need this assistance in order to work are being denied service or will be cut from the program.
This is a big problem for many reasons, but top among them are:
- Increasing Child Poverty - Care4Kids enables parents to work. Without child care, many parents will have to leave their job. This impacts a family's ability to stay out of poverty, will increase the unemployment rate, will negatively impact the state economy, and will increase the state welfare rolls.
- Safety - When parents have no resources for child care, they often turn to unregulated, unsafe care. With 4 infant deaths in child care this year alone, this is a serious concern.
- Erosion of the child care infrastructure - All parents, not just those utilizing Care4Kids, are impacted when large numbers of children drop out of child care programs. When a large number of children leave child care and there is no one to replace them, the entire system becomes unstable.
The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance urges Governor Dannel Malloy and the members of the Connecticut General Assembly to stop further eligibility cuts by adequately funding Care4Kids.