Access to affordable, licensed child care is vital to ensure that families can work and children are safe. Indeed, when families cannot afford licensed care, parents have a more limited ability to work consistently and in some cases, children can be left in an unsafe situation.
In 2012, full-time care in a licensed facility for one infant in Nebraska amounted to 36% of the annual median income for single mothers in Nebraska (average of $7,693 per year). The child care subsidy program in Nebraska currently supports families by helping them access affordable child care. At the same time, the program can do more to ensure child care is affordable and those that need it to work can access it.
Today, Senator Cook introduced LB359 on make changes to the child care subsidy program. The bill is designed to establish a small earned income incentive for ongoing subsidy eligibility. The idea behind the proposed bill is to help support families for a three year period of time. In determining ongoing eligibility for the program seven percent of a household’s gross earned income shall be disregarded after 12 months on the program, fifteen percent after 24 months, and after 36 months, a household’s gross income shall be treated the same as at initial eligibility for the program.
Through this change, we can take a step toward helping more families improve their economic circumstances while being able to afford child care. This is a good move for Nebraska’s working parents, children, and its economy. Voices for Children in Nebraska and the Coalition for a Strong Nebraska support this bill in a collaborative effort to help make Nebraska families achieve the “good life.”