Fresno County assembly member pushing to get more low-income families eligible for child care

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Fresno County had to return nearly $10 million to the state because it couldn't get enough low-income families qualified for subsidized child care. (KFSN)

Fresno County had to return nearly $10 million to the state because it couldn't get enough low-income families qualified for subsidized child care.

It's because two parents making minimum wage make too much money to get help. It's estimated there are 4,000 children in the county on waiting lists for any kind of care.

"What we are hearing from our child care providers is that they are having to turn away families that can't afford their services but at the same time are not qualifying for the subsidized programs," child care coordinator Matilda Soria explained.

Private costs range from $12,000 to $18,000 a year. Low-income families can qualify for state subsidies to help defray the costs, but only if the combined family income is less than $42,000 a year for a family of three.

Two parents working full-time for minimum wage exceed that threshold.

"Our concern is that if now many of our families are not eligible, we are talking about families that make 50 cents, a dollar more than that threshold with the minimum wage increase, we will see more and more families not eligible for child care subsidy programs," Soria said.

Even at $42,000, the subsidized cost the parents pay is about $450 a month. Fresno County was unable to fill all its subsidized slots because too many working parents made too much money.

Assembly member Joaquin Arambula is pushing for a pilot program to get the income limit raised so more families will qualify.

"This type of pilot will give us the flexibility we need to make sure we have enough slots for our kids," he said.

Arambula's legislation is moving through the state assembly. It's patterned after similar programs in other counties. The proposal calls for raising the income limit for assistance for a family of three to $56,000.

At that level, parents would still pay but get some help from the state.

The county's child care program is coordinated through the county school superintendent's office. They say the income level needs to be raised because it hasn't been adjusted for 10 years.

Related Topics:
politicspoliticsfresno countyFresno County
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