JARROD MOON Assistant Editor
December 20, 2012
CHARLESTON — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced on Tuesday that the changes proposed earlier this year for the eligibility levels of child subsidy will be tabled for further review.
The changes were made in an effort to compensate for shortfalls in federal funding. The Governor plans to submit a supplemental appropriation next year to help close the gap through the spring and has plans to work with all parties to find a solution for making this program successful long term. For parents of children who receive childcare through this program as well as daycare center owners, this was indeed, welcome news.
Tammy Bucci, the owner and operator of Kidz and Company Family Daycare on Elm Street in Williamson, spoke with the Williamson Daily News after receiving the good news and provided the following comments regarding the situation.
“I couldn’t be happier, not only for myself but for the children who attend our daycare and their parents who have been extremely worried about no longer receiving assistance that helps provide childcare for their kids,” stated Bucci.
“They were already struggling to just pay their co-pays; there was no way they could have paid the entire amount out of their own pockets. I’m also very pleased to know we can take new enrollees whose parents meet the income guidelines; we had been told no one else could be added to the subsidy program.”
“With the economy in the shape that it is, this news couldn’t have come at a better time!”
“After much discussion with parents and folks in the childcare industry, I decided it’s not in the best interest of West Virginia families to move forward with the scheduled changes to our state’s childcare subsidy,” said Gov. Tomblin. “We still have a lot of work to do; these programs are not sustainable with our current level of funding, but at this point, I believe it’s best to keep hard-working families in the program and to look for other ways to address the budget shortfalls.”
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) officials announced in June 2012 that the ceiling for eligibility would be reduced from 185 percent of federal poverty level to 150 percent. This change was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2013. Tuesday’s announcement means that no change will be made at this time and the entry and exit levels will remain the same, thus retaining families who are at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. The changes to the copayment structures announced earlier this year will go into effect on January 1, 2013.
“With all of the lay-offs in the mining industry, we’ve got several children who attend our daycare whose parents are now working jobs that pay a lot less than what they accustomed to making,” said Bucci. “For all of those suffering financially, such as the single parents who are struggling just to make ends meet, this is very good news!”
Bucci stated that she wanted to extend a big thank you to everyone who helped with the rallies held in support of this program or who wrote letters to their state officials voicing their concerns, and said she wanted to give a special shout out to WV House of Delegate Representative Justin Marcum (20th District) for all of his help.
“Justin was such a strong advocate for us, he really went to bat on our behalf and we want him to know that we’re grateful for his dedication and hard work,” concluded Bucci.