State cuts cause daycare dilemma for poor parents

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Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - David Dycus

MAYFIELD, Ky. - "State budget shortfalls that penalize the poor." That's how families feel about recent changes to a program their children counted on.

Now the program is 'frozen' to new applicants and others struggling to make ends meet are learning they no longer qualify. An estimated 1,400 kids were cut from the program.

Income requirements for a family of four changed from $33,075 per year to $22,050.

Low income parents are learning they now make too much money.  So they are either quitting their jobs altogether or their kids stay home alone.

"Smiling faces going to happy places."  Mother Goose's moving mantra loses momentum, almost daily.

Kids like Braelynn, Brooklyn, and Braxton are the reason.

"It's just been hard, they miss the learning, they miss their friends here, it's just been a big change," the kid's grandmother, Dawn Cole, said.

It's an inevitable end to an era of daycare on the state's dime for many.

Cole said her daughter, a single mom working full time, is too poor to pay for daycare but now deemed too wealthy for help.

"She just cried, she called me and said I lost my child care I don't know what I'm going to do," Cole said.

"If you make any too much, any, quarter nickel, dollar, then you don't qualify," daycare owner Janice Watts said.

She's lost a third of her kids and expects more dropouts in the coming months.

In a meeting at Mayfield City Hall, she learned she's not alone.

A group of daycare owners vowed to raises their voices for change so no one else loses child care and every kid can rest easily, low income or not.

State Senator Stan Humphries and Representative Richard Heath were at Wednesday's meeting and told the daycare owners to organize as one voice and lobby in Frankfort.

The group hopes to change lawmakers minds and hope they can find the money to refund the program.

State spokesperson said 23 other states have waiting lists or frozen intake for childcare assistance.

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