People who are losing eligibility for a pair of Kentucky programs for families will be the featured speakers as children’s advocates rally Monday in Frankfort against state budget cuts.
They’ll be asking state leaders to restore funding to the kinship care program and the Child Care Assistance Program, which were drastically cut this year because of an $86.6-million shortfall in the state Department for Community Based Services.
CCAP offers financial aid to low-income working families to cover day care costs and kinship care offers money to families who care for relatives’ children. The cuts went into full effect in July; in CCAP alone, an average of 10,300 families per month were expected to lose eligibility.
“The rhetoric about what the cuts would do—which is what all of us were talking about in the spring—that rhetoric has now become a reality for folks,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “We’re beginning to feel the effects. We’re beginning to hear stories about folks who were enrolled in community college last year who aren’t going to be enrolled in community college this year because of child care issues.”
Brooks argues the cuts will have lasting financial effects for Kentucky. Children who would have qualified for kinship care—which is now frozen to new applicants—will end up in the costlier foster care. Parents who relied on CCAP will quit jobs and rely instead on more expensive aid programs, too.
The Department for Community Based Services said that they’ve seen no increases in foster care so far because of the cuts.
Others have argued that the cuts will lead to the closure of child care centers, some of which rely largely on business from CCAP recipients. The cuts were based on projections, which mean that the programs’ stability is still in question despite the reductions.
State officials have bemoaned the cuts but have said they had no options.
Gov. Steve Beshear has said he’d like to see the funding issues addressed in tax reform.
But Brooks said the families affected by the cuts can’t wait until the 2014 General Assembly session—and there’s no guarantee that tax reform will happen next year, anyway.
Meanwhile, the state had a $70-million budget surplus this summer. Brooks said he wished some of that revenue had gone to the cut programs.
“I don’t think it’s fair to just cop out with, ‘We don’t have any money,” Brooks said. “Well, we do have money. We have money for priorities. So the question is not whether we have money or not, the question is whether child care supports and kinship care supports are priorities.”
The rally will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the Capitol rotunda.
(Image via Shutterstock)