By JOSH KOVNER
With a budget hole plugged for now, a childcare subsidy aimed solely at low-income working parents has been restored â€” easing a burden that had many worrying how they would remain self-sufficient.
When Care4Kids was clos-ed to new families one year ago, parents across the state, a legion of childcare workers, and advocates for children were stunned a program that helps the local economy by keeping people employed had become a budget casualty.
State officials had said new federal regulations raised the cost of program beyond what the state could then afford.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said this week thereâ€™s enough money now to reopen a waiting list and immediately resume enrolling families.
The Office of Early Child-hood, which runs Care4Kids, said thereâ€™s 5,769 households on the list.
Experience says 60 percent of those families will meet the income ceilings.
With an average of 1.5 children per household, itâ€™s likely that 5,192 children will be added to Care4Kids, said Maggie Adair, spokesman for the early childhood office.
Adair said parents on the waiting list have begun to receive requests that they submit applications.
The state is helping the families apply, she said.
Families with the highest needs are considered first. The program serves nearly 23,000 children each year,
The benefit of the subsidy is clear, said Merrill Gay, executive director of the nonprofit Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance in New Britain. â€śIt keeps kids out of poverty,â€ť he said.
To qualify for Care4Kids, families can earn up to 50 percent of the stateâ€™s median household income â€” $44,601 for a family of three.
Gay said most of the families receiving the subsidy are â€śon the knife edge of poverty â€” an accident or an illness away from things falling apart. Losing their child-care pulls the rug out from under them.â€ť
The amount of the subsidy varies across the state and with the age of the child.
A working parent with a toddler in a licensed child-care home in north central Connecticut would receive $10,660 for a year, minus a parent fee that is based on income.
The average fee is $102 per month. In southwest Connecticut, the yearly subsidy for the same toddler would be $12,688.
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