By RONNIE ELLIS
For lack of $66 million to help with child care costs for the working poor the state may witness the loss of thousands of jobs and incur even greater costs down the road.
That was the message from child care workers and advocates before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday while behind those testifying child care workers nodded with each dire warning and applauded when speakers concluded their comments.
The state has announced it will cease child care subsidies for the working poor and those seeking to better their education as of April 1 in response to a budget shortfall. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services faces an $86 million shortfall, about $66 million of that for child care subsidies.
But it’s a short-sighted, penny-wise and pound foolish idea, according to those who addressed the legislative committee Wednesday.
“If you don’t invest in the playpen, you’re going to invest in the state pen later on,” said Kristen Tipton of Southside Church Charities Child Care of Louisville.
Failing to provide those child care subsidies will have a much greater impact than just on the affected families, according to Gerry Roll, Executive Director of Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky based in Hazard.
Many of the parents who depend on New Beginnings, a day care in Hazard, make as little as $7 or $8 an hour and losing subsidized child care will probably mean they can’t work, Roll told lawmakers.
Roll said many child care centers have a majority of clients who receive the subsidies and if they are cut off, the child care centers will not be able to continue operating.
That could put another 12,500 child care workers out of work, Roll said, most of whom make between $15,000 and $20,000 a year. She said 78 percent of the clients at New Beginnings in Hazard receive the child care subsidy — and if the center loses that income it won’t be able to stay open even to serve the full-pay clients.
“It ALL goes away come April 1.” Roll said. “These are working parents we are about to squash.”
That will affect the local economy as well, she said.
For the full story, see the print or e-edition of Saturday's Glasgow Daily Times.