In order to begin chipping away at a budget deficiency in a popular child care subsidy program, the Office of Early Childhood announced Tuesday that it would close enrollment to new applicants who are teen parents or have received state assistance in the past.
The Care4Kids program, according to the Office of Early Childhood, is currently unable to serve as many families as it has supported in the past due to new federal policy requirements that have resulted in increased caseload numbers and longer periods of enrollment for each family.
That means starting on Dec. 31 about 1,800 families who may have applied over the next six months won’t be able to receive a subsidy to help pay for child care.
Already, this summer it closed enrollment to new low-income families who make under 50 percent of the state median income. Tuesday’s announcement closed enrollment to low-income working parents who are former recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or who are teen parents ages 18 and 19 who attend high school or equivalent.
“The Office of Early Childhood takes the decision to change eligibility requirements to the Care4Kids program very seriously and we realize the impact this will have on many working families,” Linda Goodman, OEC Acting Commissioner, said. “We support the goal of many of the federal policy changes that create stability and continuity in care for families. However, these changes have made the program more expensive per child and the OEC must take steps to mitigate this increased cost.”
The move only erases about $1.5 million of the $6.1 million deficiency. That means there is still a $4.6 million deficiency, as a result of changes to the program by the federal government.
The Office of Policy and Management said it’s working on closing any remaining deficiency and believes at least $2 million can be erased with unspent money for preschool slots.
“The changes to Care4Kids’ eligibility were made only after a careful and diligent review of all of the available and realistic options,” Chris McClure, a spokesman for OPM, said. “OEC and OPM are continuing to work to close the deficiency without destabilizing families and additional changes may be required as the year progresses, but every step we make today makes that less likely.”
In the meantime, the OEC is maintaining a wait list for parents who apply for Care4Kids, but who are no longer eligible due to the changes in eligibility requirements. Complete information about the program is also available at www.ctcare4kids.com.