Malloy Budget Cuts undermine quality early child care programs in Connecticut

Connecticut Voices for Children, a non-partisan research group, has produced a new report on the devastating impact that Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget is having on Connecticut’s Care 4 Kids program.

CT Voices reports;

The Care 4 Kids child care subsidy has played a key role in providing quality child care to low-income working families in Connecticut, enrolling an average of about 21,000 children per month in 2016.

 Last summer, however, increased program costs driven by federally mandated quality improvements resulted in a $33 million budget shortfall.

To address that budget gap, the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) closed enrollment for the program, leading to a current waitlist of about 3,000 families.  The waitlist is projected to increase to 5,000 families by July 2017.

[…]

We find that 30% of children age under five in the state live in low-income families that qualify for Care 4 Kids – but instead of receiving subsidies, these children and their families are placed on a waitlist with no definitive end date. Moreover, in 49% of Connecticut towns, Care 4 Kids is the only form of state support for child care. Under the Governor’s proposed budget, the subsidy program may not reopen until 2019, leaving thousands of parents with untenable choices. The legislature must adopt a budget that fully funds Care 4 Kids this year –our report presents policy solutions to make that happen.

The full policy report, which is entitled Care 4 Kids in Connecticut – The Impact of Program Closure on Children, Parents, explains the impact of Changes to Care 4 Kids Eligibility as follows;

Since the Closure of Care 4 Kids, enrollment has dropped significantly. The current waitlist contains about 3,000 families. The waitlist is projected to increase to about 5,000 families by July 2017.

Connecticut may see a decline in the number of child care centers and home day care providers. Loss of child care funding could have a spiraling effect, as centers and home care providers that receive partial funding from Care 4 Kids subsidies close their doors and are thus unable to meet the needs of other working parents.

Thousands of families may face a summer camp crisis. Care 4 Kids enrollment increases during the summer: 2,200 families requested “summer only” child care subsidies in 2016. Given the closure of Care 4 Kids to new applicants, we predict about 2,200 families (in addition to the regular waitlist) may be unable to afford safe child care this coming summer.

The CT Voices report concludes;

Even in difficult fiscal times, our state must protect the most vulnerable from harm. Care 4 Kids – which helps children access quality child care and education, enables low-income parents to work, and supports the statewide child care system on which all parents depend – is a critical program that must be protected.

Read the full report at: http://www.ctvoices.org/sites/default/files/Care%204%20Kids%20Brief%20%20Final.pdf