Childcare funding rules squelch access, work opportunities
Akron Beacon Journal - May 17, 2014
The Akron Beacon Journal ran this editorial based on a report by Policy Matters Ohio’s Wendy Patton. The study examined how Ohio rules to qualify for initial and continuing assistance on the cost of childcare deter working parents from advancing on the job and disrupt children’s progress in crucial early learning programs:
The “cracks” refer to a system out of touch in many ways with the realities of the job market. As Patton points out, many lose their assistance not because their income rises but due to changes in their work situation. They may move from one job to another, and in and out of eligibility. The trouble is, the program lacks corresponding flexibility. To become eligible again, you must meet the threshold of 125 percent of poverty or below. Thus, many are shut out.
The program works as a disincentive to advance in the workplace. To regain assistance, a parent must retreat to lower pay levels. More, the interruptions in support ill serve the children. They miss the learning experiences in childcare, a result at odds with the evidence about early education, leaving them behind, or in a canyon.
The editorial endorses our recommendations for a higher income ceiling for initial eligibility, eligibility lasting the full year, to avoid drop-offs when a parent’s work situation improves only temporarily, and presumptive eligibility, to insulate families against the thirty day waiting period they currently face:
This is about encouraging work and expanding opportunity. Surely, the state can afford to advance those priorities.