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Child care is another story

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Child care is another story

Severe cuts are coming July 1 in the program that pays for child care for low-income families. The details are now under consideration, according to the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education of the state Department of Human Services. DCCECE confirmed that some recipients of child-care assistance were dropped from the rolls in March, but it said those had been reinstated and no one would be dropped before July 1.

The child-care program is wholly funded by the federal government. A source provided the Arkansas Times a copy of a March 7 memorandum from Ivory Daniels, head of the child-care voucher program, discussing cuts in the federal funds. The memo to DCCECE staff said, “Please inform staff, providers, and clients that due to the lack of funding, their child care assistance has been temporarily suspended. … Authorizations are to be suspended and only re-opened if any new funding becomes available.”

Julie Munsell, a spokesman for DHS, said the memo was not intended for publication and was meant only as a discussion of contingencies. “We're trying to come up with a plan starting July 1 on how the program can sustain itself,” Munsell said. “We'll obviously have to change some eligibility requirements [so that fewer people will receive assistance].”

In January 2007, DHS loosened the eligibility requirements, allowing families with a somewhat higher income to qualify for child-care assistance. By September, DHS saw that more families had been added than the funding would support. At that time, it stopped adding families, regardless of income.

The source who gave the Daniels memo to the Times said in an anonymous letter that the cuts made in March had fallen most heavily on African-American families and providers. Munsell said she'd seen the letter, but there was no other indication that African-Americans had been disproportionately affected by DCCECE actions.

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