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New Virginia Law Helps More Families Get Child Care

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021   

RICHMOND, Va. - To assist more parents looking for or returning to jobs as the pandemic begins to ease, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has signed legislation expanding eligibility for the state Child Care Subsidy program.

Now, said Emily Griffey, chief policy officer for Voices for Virginia's Children, a single parent making less than $60,000 a year can qualify for state help paying for care for a child younger than age five. The previous income limit was less than $32,000 a year.

Griffey said work requirements also have been relaxed, so parents can get child-care assistance while looking for a job, instead of after they've found one.

"Child care can cost more than a mortgage," she said, "and so, to have this kind of financial assistance to get folks back on track after the pandemic could be really transformative for families."

She noted that House Bill 2206 is funded by federal stimulus money and coronavirus relief funds dedicated to child-care assistance. The short-term eligibility requirement will end July 1. People can apply online at commonhelp.virginia.gov or call 1-866-KIDS-TLC.

Griffey said about 90% of Virginia's child-care programs have reopened in the past few months, after the pandemic forced many of them to close last year. She said she thinks the reopenings and the subsidies will help women, particularly women of color, groups that experienced heavy job losses in the health crisis.

"Child care was unaffordable for most families before the pandemic, and right now, we want to make sure that families are strong and that women can get back into the workforce," she said. "And so being able to find affordable child care is one of those critical elements."

Federal funds also will supplement Virginia's child-care educator incentive program. That will allow some child-care centers that receive public funding to get grants of up to $2,000 this year to boost the quality of their programs and reduce turnover.


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