5/27/16: Statement from CCRC’s Director Regarding the Child Care Subsidy Freeze
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has been forced to place a freeze on child care subsidy effective June 1, 2016. This means everyone that completes an application for child care subsidy will be denied until further notice if funds become available. Families that are currently receiving child care subsidy will not be affected unless their cases are closed for more than 30 days. At this time, I do not know how long this freeze will be in effect. Basically, what this means is no one will be approved to receive child care subsidy until further notice.
This decision will have a devastating effect on Oklahoma’s child care industry and in turn on Oklahoma’s children and families. Our children will suffer as families will be forced to choose unlicensed care that they can afford, OR choose to leave their children home alone, OR choose not to work at all because there is no one available to care for their children OR be unable to further education/training so they can be employed. Child care centers that rely on serving low-income children whose care is partially supported by child care subsidies will find it difficult to impossible to stay in business because families can’t afford to pay the full cost of licensed child care. Child care programs will close. Early childhood professionals will become unemployed. Families will not be able to find child care. Children will not have appropriate early learning opportunities and therefore, will not be ready for kindergarten. The cycle will just continue. Child care subsidy is a support that allows low income families to work, while providing necessary learning for young children. It is not a handout.
While it is easy to place blame, we all share in the responsibility for this decision. DHS made this decision as a last resort after reducing their own staff, eliminating supports to child care professionals, and reducing services that support families and child care providers because their budget as well as all the other state agencies have been drastically cut. If we voted for those who ran on the platform of less taxes and less government, we helped create this problem. This is what less government looks like. For months, we watched the legislators argue over things that are only important to a small number of Oklahomans while the decisions affecting all of Oklahoma’s children were being ignored.
Those of us that think it doesn’t matter to me because my children are grown so what do I care if the child care industry collapses, need to understand the full impact of this decision. These cuts will effect job performance of those who do have young children that are working next to us or providing services we rely on daily. This includes hospital staff, food service industry, education, and manufacturing just to name a few.
The members of the Oklahoma House and Senate have refused to make the unpopular decisions to put a hold on the tax cut that went into effect on January 1, 2016, or to accept Medicaid expansion, or to reduce or eliminate tax credits that are not providing outcomes to help the state of Oklahoma. As the Director of the Child Care Resource Center, I needed to speak up for our children, families and child care providers. Please consider contacting your legislators to let them know how these cuts will affect you.