Local News

Cuts to child care subsidy squeeze some families

Posted February 22, 2013 7:07 p.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2013 7:12 p.m. EST

— Steep cuts to child care funding have led to an alarming reality for hundreds of local families, who will lose their eligibility for subsidized care next week.

Wake County recently sent about 750 termination notices for children between the ages of 8½ and 12. Officials said it largely is a result of receiving about $1.9 million less from the state than expected.

"What am I going to do? How am I going to work?" said Cynthia Amos, whose older son was among the terminations. "I really don't have too many options at this point."

Amos has a first-grader and a third-grader who get after-school care at Gingerbread LittleVersity in Fuquay-Varina. The single mother said she now faces the choice of letting her son, who's not yet 9, stay at home alone after school or quit her full-time job at a fast-food restaurant.

"I do everything I can for them. Now, I feel like it's not enough," she said.

The child care subsidy is based on an assessment of need, income and family size. Most parents are required to work in order to qualify, and Kelli Ketner, general manager of Gingerbread LittleVersity, said the county picks up, on average, two-thirds of the cost of child care.

Ketner said the children being terminated from subsidized care aren't mature enough to be left on their own.

"I''m just scared of what's going to happen to them," she said.

Gingerbread LittleVersity cares for 125 children between 6 weeks old and 12 years old. Many of them are picked up at their schools, and they are fed an afternoon snack and receive homework assistance.

"We keep them out of trouble, that's the main thing," Ketner said.

Wake County officials said the state is looking into whether it can reallocate funds before next week's cuts take place.

"This is the only way I'm going to be able to keep a job," Amos said. "Not only that, the day care is helping my kids with their education."