With the federal reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant which is the primary funding mechanism for states to draw down money to pay for child care services including the scholarship program for low income working families called “CAPS”, states were challenged with a host of federal unfunded mandates and policy challenges, Among them was the federal direction to increase weekly CAPS tuition reimbursement to keep inline with current rates and inflation. This on the surface is incredibly important, however because Georgia had not modified their rates since 2006, such an increase would cause approximately 15,000 low income children to be “kicked out” of the system with no where to go.
This vital works program helps low income families pay for child care so they can work and often keeps them off of more expensive state program such as food stamps or TANF.
The feds issued several unfunded mandates and left states to figure out how to balance meeting the new standards and keeping children in the program.
The crisis came to a head in October 2016,when child advocates, families and child care programs realized that restrictions had been put in place to “solve” the funding gap which would have essentially caused small child care business to close their doors due to lost enrollments and families would lose their jobs without this crucial stipend.
The problem is not fixed, but a temporary bandage was applied until July 1, 2017 when states would have to make tough decisions. Governor Deal for the first time in state history requested an incremental $5.5M to the states budget to help assuage fears. We applaud the Governor for his leadership. This is a step in the right direction, but much more funding is needed.