Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cuts to childcare subsidies seem wrong to student

Here is a student reaction essay about proposed cuts to childcare subsidies in Illinois.

Budget Cuts to State Programs

There could possibly be a $400 million cut to the Illinois Department of Human Services.  This cut would take place for the mid year of (FY11).  The budget cut will affect the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) program by $100 millions. The governor has proposed reducing state subsidies for child care from about $600 million to about $400 million. If this cut takes place this will leave 4 months left in the (FY11) budget.  This means that services will have to be cut 3 times as much as they would have been cut of the start of the fiscal year to obtain comparable savory. 

 In December 2010, there were a total of 188,000 children in the CCAP program.  If the budget is cut by $100 million, this would mean that 1/3 of the funds will be cut from childcare.  This would, by my estimate, cut or reduce support for childcare for a total of 63,000 children. Many would be cut from the program.  Many low-income single mothers who get a job will no longer be eligible for childcare assistance.  There will be a total of 7000 to 8000 children that will have to be put on a waiting list, because such drastic cuts will reduce the number of child care facilities; some will close, many will shrink as they lay of child care workers. The childcare program has not had a waiting list since the program started in 1997.

 For many parents are looking for affordable, quality childcare, but such care is unaffordable to families earning incomes between $10,000 and $20,000, and often not even affordable for families with incomes up to $30,000 or higher, especially in the more expensive Chicago region.  Faced with a choice to take a job that might pay $10 or $11, and require $4-per-hour childcare costs, parents will calculate that after taxes and transportation costs and childcare costs, the job will actually only leave them with $5 or $6 per hour, which will not be enough to pay rent, utilities, and buy food. Childcare subsidies are an important aid to help parents get into the labor force, but without such subsidies, many parents will not possibly be able to accept jobs with low starting wages.  These parents will have to leave their children home with relatives, unless they can find very low-cost childcare, but some low-cost childcare may be informal care, given by persons who may be unqualified, who may simply let children watch television all day in their living rooms.  There children stand the risk of not receiving the quality child care that a licensed family provider or license center are mandated to provide. 

The CCAP program was established as a part of the War on Welfare Bill.  Cutting childcare assistance will be a bad public policy decision all the way around.  I think this will be one of the worst policy decisions there are in terms of killing jobs during the recession for the working parents. Parents who receive TANF or Unemployment Insurance will have a further incentive to stay out of the labor force or turn down jobs and remain on public assistance, and costs for SNAP (food stamps) and other programs may increase. So, cuts to childcare may simply shift costs to other forms of welfare. Such drastic cuts as have been proposed will affect the employment of the childcare providers as well because most of the funds for services come from the CCAP program.  As we know, the unemployment rates in Illinois regions such as Chicago are greater than 10%. If another 5,000 or 10,000 childcare workers lose their jobs, they will spend less money, and the local economies will further decline. The harm to the state and to communities will be much worse than any harm we would suffer through modest increases in state income taxes or a broadening of the state income taxes to include many services.

And here is another version of the paper written as a more formal paper, rather than a reaction essay:

            The DHS: Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is in jeopardy of funding being cut from the program.  The Y12 state budget faces a deficit of around $15 billion.  Legislators have proposed a solution to the problem by cutting the CCAP funds by $70 to $100 million.  The CCAP is a program that low-income families can qualify for to assist in paying for their childcare.  The Department of Human Services supports an average of 174,000 children in the program, and if funds are cut at levels considered by the legislators, about 77,000 children will be cut from the program. There are now about 90,100 low income families receiving assistance from the CCAP in paying for childcare.  If this program is cut, many families won’t be able to afford daycare.  The average cost of childcare in a family home daycare is around $130.00 per child per week.  Parents who work a minimal wage job could possible only be bringing home $500-$600 biweekly.    The payment of childcare would equal over a quarter of the parent’s paycheck.

            CCAP provides childcare for children ages 6 wk to 12 years old.  The families that are on the program are either employed or attending school (or receiving TANF).  If funds are cut, parents will have to quit their jobs or rely on other means of childcare.  Some parents may have to leave their children at home with relatives.  One of the primary goals of this program is to support qualify low-income families by providing child care subsides.  This allows parents to maintain employment to further their education.  This also decreases their dependence on public assistance. 

            Another goals is to allow families access to multiple options for affordable, quality child care, early education, and after school programs.  This will allow children the opportunity to grow, learn and be cared for in a safe, nurturing environment.  Licensed childcare providers and centers offer quality care for the children in their programs. These licensed facilities are overseen by The Department of Family and Children Services, which has certain quality requirements and standards that facilities must meet and maintain.

            One of the many ways that childcare providers and working families have began to fight back is going to the State Capitol and rallying.  These rallies are held when our state and local government representatives are in session.  The goal of the rallies is to talk to as many representatives about how this will affect the community.  After speaking with working families, the legislators hear constituents tell them that without childcare assistance many low-income families wouldn’t know what to do.  Some working parents say they work two jobs and/or weekends.  There are very few daycare centers and few childcare provider that will provide care for these working parents who have late shifts or weekend work, because of the hours and difficulty hiring childcare staff to work weekend days and nights.  Without the funding of childcare, it would be hard to find a reliable childcare provider.

            Not only will working parents suffer, childcare providers will suffer as well.  Family childcare providers depend on providing the service of childcare because this is their source of employment.  Some providers depend on these funds as their only source of income.  Without this income, family childcare providers could possibly add to the job unemployment list.  This will lead to more victims of unemployment.

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