Fund Child Care, Help the Economy

Hartford Courant Letter to the Editor.  January 30, 2017. 

When you have a child, they tell you to start saving for college right away, yet child-care costs, in some cases, are on par with college.

Nothing will keep hard-working people from pursuing available jobs more than a lack of quality, affordable child care. Unfortunately, at the start of the year, the state's Care 4 Kids program was forced to add new barriers to the program –- they stopped taking applications from people who have received benefits from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program within the last five years, and from 18-year-old parents who attend high school.

Why? In past years, about half of the program’s funding was from the federal government. But the feds changed the rules, and Connecticut’s bill for the program jumped $33 million. We had not budgeted for that surge in costs. If the federal government is serious about helping working families, this should be one of its top funding priorities. 

Care 4 Kids helps low- to moderate-income families in Connecticut pay for child-care costs. Data show that 31 percent of children under 5 in Connecticut live in families that earn 50 percent of the median income or less. The Care 4 Kids program allows these parents to work so that they can find ways out of poverty.

We must keep the doors to quality child care open to working families.

We can’t live in a state that forces parents to choose between work and their children. The federal government must do the right thing and fix the mess that they created and fund Care 4 Kids. This program provides incentives to work and ensures that our youngest children have access to a quality education. 

Funding this program is a no-brainer.

Matt Ritter, Hartford. 

Matt Ritter is the Majority Leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives. He represents the 1st Assembly District in Hartford.

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