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Working Families Say Childcare Cuts Would Mean Devastating Setbacks

June 25, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Starting next week, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will begin phasing in cuts to state-supported child care. Some parents say that could force them to drop out of school or become unemployed.

Teresa Conley, Wayne, has a five-year-old boy and is a full-time nursing student. She says the cuts mean day care would cost her family $400 more a month, which she can't afford, even though her husband works full time while she is in nursing school. Without state support, she says, they would have no choice but to take their son out of child care.

"If I don't have that, I wouldn't be able to do school or my husband would have to stop working, and we wouldn't be able to pay anything, then - we would lose everything. That would mean I would have to stop nursing school and wouldn't be able to finish it."

Many of the families who could lose child care support say they are just barely hanging on now, and without help from the state they would have to make some intensely difficult decisions. Tina Sharp, Huntington, says three of their four children are in day care while she and her husband work full time (the fourth goes to an after school program). She says the cuts could cost them $600 more a month - money they don't have.

"One of us would be forced to quit our job and stay at home with our children, which would make us lose our house and probably have to move into public housing."

The cuts, which are making up for a budget shortfall, mean increased co-pays and tightened income requirements. One estimate says more than 1,400 low-income families will be affected.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV