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Partial Thaw for Maryland Childcare Wait-list

PHOTO: Maryland is opening limited enrollment in the Child Care Subsidy Program this month. Enrollment had been frozen since February 2011. Photo courtesy of Maryland Family Network.
PHOTO: Maryland is opening limited enrollment in the Child Care Subsidy Program this month. Enrollment had been frozen since February 2011. Photo courtesy of Maryland Family Network.
November 8, 2012

BALTIMORE - A big freeze may be headed for Maryland's weather, but a partial thaw is coming soon - as the state reopens enrollment in the Child Care Subsidy Program on a limited basis.

It's a sliding-fee scale system to help low-income working parents stay in the workforce, while ensuring that their children are receiving quality care that gets them ready for kindergarten.

Clinton Macsherry, public policy director for Maryland Family Network, welcomes the news, but also points out that more children are on the list - about 22,000 - than are receiving the benefit.

"We've got a lot of work to do to restore this very critical program to even its base level prior to the wait-list, much less get it back into good health."

Funding is a combination of federal and state sources, he says, with most historically coming in at the federal level - and that's where the flow of money has narrowed. Macsherry says the state has tried to step in but can't cover the difference.

The state still is working on economic recovery, Macsherry says, so getting parents to work is a key component for success.

"We're going to have a really hard time doing that unless we make sure parents have every resource to regain employment."

The program has been closed since February 2011, and is reopening because of savings accumulated as families moved away or no longer needed help, or children aged out of the program. Not all eligible families will be able to enroll - only those in the lowest income categories, meaning under $18,000 a year for a family of four.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD