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Working poor families to lose child care vouchers [US-SC]

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Publication Date: 
28 Oct 2003

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About 4,700 children in working poor families will lose child care vouchers by August, state health officials say.

The vouchers have gone to two groups for several years, the welfare-to-work families and working poor families, defined as a family of four that has a combined income of $2,300 per month and whose parents are employed, are training for a job or are in school.

Parents pay a portion of child-care costs and the Advocates for Better Care vouchers, funded by both state and federal dollars, pick up the rest.

In the past fiscal year, child-care costs for welfare children has increased about $7 million and about 1,400 more children need vouchers, state health officials said.

Those increases have wiped out money for the working poor families, the state Health and Human Services Department said. Now only welfare-to-work families are eligible for the vouchers.

The news doesn't sit well with Vernetta Howell, a single mother, who recently learned she was being eliminated from the program.

She currently pays about $38 for child care and the voucher covers the rest. But the $80 to $90 weekly fee that most daycare charge is beyond her budget.

In the welfare-to-work program, most parents have jobs and receive assistance for about two years. To qualify for the welfare-to-work program, a family of four must have an income of $766 per month or less.

The department has been giving families whose vouchers will soon expire about two months' notice. Day cares were notified about the change in June.

DSS determines which families are eligible for the vouchers, while the health agency administers the program.

- reprinted from The State