Health

Last year, a budget shortfall led to the slashing of a subsidy program that helped low-income Kentucky families cover the cost of child care.

The cuts led to a drastic reductionnearly 50 percent—in the number of children enrolled in the program. Critics said the cuts led some low-income workers, left with no one to watch their kids, to quit their jobs. It had a ripple effect on child care centers, some of which were forced to close or cut jobs.

Now, the Kentucky Child Care Assistance Program has begun to gain participants, according to numbers provided earlier this month by the Department for Community Based Services.

The new funding—$38.8 million this fiscal year—led to an increase in the number of eligible families and went into effect on Aug. 4. As of Sept. 8, here’s where the program stood in participants:

A Kentucky family of four is eligible with a monthly income of no more than $2,608; eligibility adjusts with number of people in a household, income and other factors. Here’s more on eligibility. 

When the expansion was announced this summer, Gov. Steve Beshear said the CCAP should be able to cover 6,000 more families.

That’s going to take a while. The Department for Community Based Services expects to hit the 6,000 family mark at the end of the fiscal year next summer, a spokeswoman said.

Kentucky Youth Advocates executive director Terry Brooks—a lead critic of the earlier cuts—said he’s been pleased with how the state has handled the rollout of additional funds to CCAP.

“They’ve done a real good job of outreach, they’ve done a good job of working with child care centers and providers. And it really took that local effort and the state effort to make those numbers happen,” Brooks said on Friday.

“We think the trajectory is positive.”

But Brooks indicated that he’s not through pressing Frankfort on the CCAP issue.

For the next fiscal year, the state legislature allocated even more money—$58.3 million—for the subsidy program. Brooks said the funding should allow CCAP to expand again, this time to the eligibility requirements prior to the 2013 cuts. He said on Friday that he’d like the state to consider expanding eligibility before July 1, when the next fiscal year starts.

“I think that’s a challenge, but it’s an achievable challenge,” Brooks said.