New Budget Shortfall Affecting Connecticut Child Care Program - NBC Connecticut

New Budget Shortfall Affecting Connecticut Child Care Program

(Published Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016)

The Office of Policy Management (OPM) released a new multi-million dollar shortfall late Tuesday afternoon for Care 4 Kids, a child care program in the state.

The shortfall is making parents already in the program want to know if they can still count on that daycare assistance.

Chandler Davis is raising her 4-year-old daughter as a single mother, “I work full time and these programs do help, and if it goes away I'm probably going to end up struggling a little bit."

Like many other mothers’ Davis is worried her family could be cut from Care 4 Kids because of budget deficiencies.

"Whether they made errors or things changed, I don't know. Clearly the deficit was greater than they anticipated. I guess the question you should be asking is what is being done to avoid this catastrophe?” Gerry Pastor told NBC Connecticut.

On Oct. 20, OPM outlined an $8.7 million Care 4 Kids budget shortfall.

"Due to raises in subsidy rates to reflect collective bargaining increases for day care workers and changes in federal regulations," OPM Secretary Benjamin Barnes wrote.

Late Tuesday afternoon, OPM released a new figure, involving a $5.4 million shortfall number for Care 4 Kids.

Gerry Pastor owns a dozen Educational Playcare schools and founded the Connecticut Childcare association.

In June, the program slashed income eligibility from 50 percent of the state median to 30 percent for new applicants in the working families tier.

In August, no new families were admitted, and now there are more than 2-thousand waiting.

“At Educational Playcare, I didn't have to worry. If my child was safe and Care4Kids took a lot of burden off me as a single mother working full time. I needed that,” Davis added.

Parents like Davis wonder if their status will change during a review called redetermination.

“To see if income wise I'm eligible, to receive that little bit of help and it does help. Daycare is very expensive and who knows what is going to happen at that point,” Davis told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

Pastor added, “For us it’s about 15 to 20 percent of our tuitions here. We actually have made, my wife and I the decision, should this come about we're going to cut our tuitions to literally cover the teachers in the classroom and nothing else, and give them a chance."

Governor Dan Malloy told NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, "This is a federal program. I'm concerned. Everyone is concerned with those changes. The appropriate folks to raise those with are the federal authorities who did this. We're always looking for ways to make sure children are well cared for."

A spokeswoman for the Office of Early Childhood says no decisions have been made about any new changes to the program, but they are looking at all available options.

The acting commissioner will be testifying this Friday at the legislative office building.

A spokesperson for the Office of Early Childhood re-released this statement to the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters on Monday:

In order to meet the new policy requirements of the federal law, the Office of Early Childhood has taken difficult, but proactive steps, to live within our means and serve as many families as possible. While we support the goals of much of the new federal policy, we continue to have serious concerns about dramatic increases to the cost of the Care 4 Kids program. To address these concerns, our former commissioner, Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, testified before Congress and Governor Malloy sent a letter to the congressional appropriations committees urging them to increase funding. We will continue to track enrollment trends and expenditure data as we explore all possible options, but the fact remains, we take very seriously any decision to change eligibility to the program. - Linda Goodman, Acting Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood

Advocates with the early childhood alliance urge concerned folks to call their state lawmakers.

House Democrats: (860) 240-8500

House Republicans: (860) 240-8700

Senate Democrats: (860) 240-8600

Senate Republicans: (860) 240-8800

Governor’s office: (800) 406-1527

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