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.
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.
 National Women’s Law Center State Child Care Assistance Policies, 2011