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New AZ Budget Ends Low-Income Child Care Help

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April 7, 2011

PHOENIX, Ariz. - State child care assistance for Arizona's low-income working parents will end July 1, under the new budget adopted by lawmakers. The program was frozen in 2009, gradually reducing enrollment by 19,000. This latest cut will drop the remaining 13,000 kids.

Arizona Child Care Association director Bruce Liggett says the move leaves parents with few options.

"They could perhaps go on welfare, quit their job, or maybe leave their children alone in unsafe, unsupervised situations."

Liggett says there are already reports of kids being left at home with older brothers or sisters. Lawmakers say the cuts are unavoidable because the state is broke. The action will cost the state $40 million in federal matching funds.

Jilian Curley, Glendale, is a 25-year-old mother of two. She makes $12.75 an hour and pays a subsidized child-care rate of $250 a month. Curley says she can't afford the full monthly rate of $1,000.

"I would have to be out of work and lose my apartment, and I honestly - it's a scary thought because I don't know what I would do."

Curley rules out leaving her children with neighbors while she works, and says relatives are not an option either.

"I have very little family. The family that I do have, they all work full-time, as well. So they wouldn't have the time, either, to watch my kids."

In addition to forcing some parents to quit work, Liggett says the state budget cuts will directly result in the elimination of hundreds of jobs in the child care industry.

"For every eight fewer children who are served by the state, we eliminate one job. So already to date, there have been about 2,400 jobs lost in child care. This would reduce it another 1,600."

Liggett says the cuts also eliminate child care for families living in homeless shelters or domestic violence shelters.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ