Parents can enroll children with serious physical disabilities or psychological problems up to the age of 18.
Today, the average cost for full-time care for an infant in a West Virginia childcare center is $6,932. For that single mother earning $15,130 a year, that would come to nearly 46 percent of her annual income.
On January 1, families whose incomes range between 150 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level will be removed from eligibility for child care benefits. West Virginia already has the nation's 16th lowest income eligibility level.
That cut is projected to save the state $4.5 million a year.
Like most states, West Virginia is already probably "serving only a fraction of families that could potentially be eligible for assistance," according to the Center's report.
Last year, childcare services in West Virginia provided jobs to 5,957 workers, according to Workforce West Virginia. Additional jobs are created in other businesses that supply goods and services to child care facilities, such as food vendors.
The Center's new report urges the state government to find new sources of income to continue financing child care facilities, including using money from the Rainy Day Fund or creating other funds, such as by raising taxes on tobacco products.
This year, West Virginia has nearly $898 million in its Rainy Day Fund, making it the second largest in the country.
The state could also create a new childcare tax credit to cut down the costs for the poorest West Virginians, the report states.
"State budget cuts to child care assistance," Boettner said, "create a difficult situation for low-income parents, child care workers, and business owners whose clients are largely recipients of child care financial assistance.
"Fortunately, the state has many options to ensure that low-income parents are not forced out of work because they cannot afford child care."
The full report is available at: www.wvpolicy.org.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.