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Improving access to child care – Support for LB 625

To: Health and Human Services Committee

From:  Aubrey Mancuso, Policy Coordinator

RE: LB 625, to change income eligibility provisions relating to federal child care assistance

 

Voices for Children is is in strong support of LB 625 to restore eligibility for the child care subsidy program to 185% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and we want  to thank Senator Conrad for bringing forward this bill.  We are encouraged by the increased attention that child care issues have received from this committee this year and think it is indicative of a growing awareness about the important role that child care plays for both parents and children.

LB 625 would increase eligibility for the state’s child care subsidy program to a level closer to what families need to maintain economic stability.  In 2009, Voices for Children produced a report called the Family Bottom Line  that looked at what families of different compositions in different regions of Nebraska need to meet basic expenses without public assitance.  In most cases, that figure was closer to 200% of FPL, which is below the eligibiliy level for most of our public benefit programs and well below current eligibility for the child care subsidy program.  In 2011, thirteen states set eligibility for child care assitance above 200% FPL and an additional 22 states set eligibility above 150% FPL.[1]

Eligibility for this particular program is of critical importance because of the percent of family income devoted to child care.  Attached to my testimony are figures from the Family Bottom Line report that are a few years old, but still relevant.  These figures illustrate the portion of family income devoted to child care and other expenses in counties that are representative of average median incomes for regions of certain geographic size.

Across all population density regions, the largest propor­tion of needed income goes to cover the cost of child care. In metropolitan Nebraska (Douglas County) child care claims 28 percent of the budget for two-adult families and 32 percent for one-adult families. For families in non-metropolitan urban Ne­braska (Adams County), child care accounts for 22 percent of the budget for two adults and 27 percent for one adult. Similarly, in non-metropolitan rural Nebraska (Nance County), 22 percent of the budget goes to child care for two-adult families and 29 per­cent for one-adult families.

Child care subsidies are critical to ensuring that children are safe and parents can work, and Nebraska’s current income eligibility level does not reflect the importance of access to child care nor the current budgetary circumstances facing families.  We urge the committee to advance this bill.  Thank you.

 


[1] National Women’s Law Center State Child Care Assistance Policies, 2011

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Comment(1)

  1. REPLY
    Dee says

    AMEN!! Go Voices for Children. This picture also turns to the cliff effect that Voices produced a couple of years ago with a single mom and two kids just trying to make it — and every time she gets a promotion or a raise past a certain limit, the ground breaks and she falls in another pit because a benefit is taken away.

    How are single moms supposed to make it — unless they have eternal and hopeful supportive parents/family/friends helping them along the way….

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