Families of four with incomes of up to $96,300 are eligible for subsidized child care, under new state income limits, and those with incomes under roughly $85,000 will pay no ‘family fees’ for it
Child care providers across California are voting on an agreement some advocates are hailing as “transformative” for the beleaguered industry.
The state has promised and set deadlines to overhaul its reimbursement model for providers of subsidized care, which advocates believe is key to solving the shortage of child care in California.
The state has also agreed to significantly reduce, and in many cases eliminate, the fees that low-income families must pay to receive state-subsidized child care.
In a state where child care for the youngest children typically costs more than $19,000 a year, California provides financial help for some low-income families toward it. Families who make 85 percent of the state median income or below — that’s up to $96,300 pre-tax annually for a family of four — are eligible for subsidized child care, according to the state’s income limits for the current fiscal year.
But the subsidy system doesn’t reach four out of five young California children who qualify for it, The San Diego Union-Tribune found in a January investigation.
And for the low-income families that it does serve, the subsidized care used to come at a hefty price.
Families have had to pay 10 percent of their monthly income as a “family fee” or co-payment for their subsidized child care — as much as $607 a month.
Federal law requires states to charge family fees on a sliding scale for subsidized care. But it leaves it up to states to decide how much and which families to charge.
Advocates for years have criticized California’s fees as inequitable and unaffordable for low-income families, noting that other states charge much less. South Dakota, for instance, charges no more than $82 a month; Oregon charges up to $130 a month and Washington state charges up to $215.
California has used COVID-19 aid to waive family fees since the onset of the pandemic, but before this summer’s budget deal, the fees had been set to return this year.
Read more at sandiegouniontribune.com.