CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An estimated 800 families with 1,400 children will be affected by cuts to child-care subsidies by the state Department of Health and Human Resources, starting next year, DHHR officials announced today.
Eligible families will also have higher co-payments, starting Aug. 1. The co-payments will more than double, rising from 5 percent to 12 percent.
Between cuts to eligibility and the increase in co-pay amounts, the state expects to save nearly $8 million per year, DHHR spokesman John Law said.
The child-care cuts will affect families whose income is between 150 percent and 185 percent of the federal poverty rate. Based on the federal poverty rate for this year, a family of four who make between $33,525 and $41,348 a year would lose their child-care subsidies under the cuts.
Families who get assistance will see the changes when they receive redeterminations from the state Bureau for Children and Families, Law said. Those redeterminations happen every six months from the date the families are first eligible for the benefits.
"Everyone who is current getting child care will continue to get it until at least January," Law said. He said that unlike other states, West Virginia is giving families six months notice to prepare for eligibility changes.
Jeanette Barker, president of West Virginia Childcare Centers United, said the cuts will affect more than just the families who receive subsidies.
"We're setting families up for failure," Barker said. "And those cuts are going to cause childcare centers to close.
"I think this move is something that discourages business to come to West Virginia because we don't have early education opportunities, that's where we're going with this."