Summit County child care assistance expands to help more families | SummitDaily.com

Summit County child care assistance expands to help more families

Year after year, the cost of getting by in Summit County continues to spike, but a handful of local families may soon catch a break.

Summit Human Services division recently announced an eligibility expansion for its County Child Care Assistance Program, or CCCAP, lending further financial subsidies to those in need of child care. The enlargement will help to cover a portion of the daycare fees a family usually pays so their children can attend one of the county's six partner child care centers, or 13 licensed home providers.

"It's nice that we can provide that in the community," said Michael Whitaker, economic security programs manager for the county. "And this tends to serve a higher income level than some of the other programs in Human Services, more into the middle class, providing that assistance given the high cost of living."

The increase raises the income qualifications from 175 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 190 percent, and went into effect on Oct. 1. In practice, that provides a family of four the ability to make $300 more per month, up to a pre-tax total of around $3,850.

Presently about 70 families in Summit County make use of CCCAP, providing for approximately 100 children because several families have multiple children. Whitaker estimates the new rules will help between 15 and 20 more families, resulting in as many as an additional 30 kids in the program.

The expansion became possible due to a small increase in the state's allocation of a federal block grant toward child care for the current fiscal year. The same occurred in 2013, which allowed the county to raised the scope of eligibility then as well, from 160 percent of the FPL to the prior 175.

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"Given the financial strains our community is facing right now with the high costs of housing and child care," Commissioner Thomas Davidson said in a news release, "we couldn't be more excited about being able to provide this assistance to a greater number of local families."

That's also off news in April that Human Services was also able to boost reimbursement rates to the care providers through the CCCAP initiative to the 75th percentile. Those increases account for a larger chunk of change families previously paid per day their child attended daycare part time, full time or before or after school.

All told, the result is more resources being poured into area child care. More children in the local centers and licensed homes — an important aspect of the area's offerings because they often cater to the Spanish-speaking population — means more funds also contributed from the Right Start program, managed by Early Childhood Options.

"We are really pleased that we are able to expand," said Lucinda Burns, executive director of Early Childhood Options, "because currently CCCAP only helps about 30 percent of those who are eligible in the state. But it's something the county commissioners have wanted to do for a while, and we finally figured out how to do it."

CCCAP eligibility remains based on income and household size, as well as participation in a qualifying activity, with the applicants employed, completing coursework as a student or involved in a work-related enterprise such as the Job Search Program.

For more information about CCCAP including how to apply, visit http://www.summitcountyco.gove/326/Child-Care-Assistance, or call (970) 668-9160.