INDIANAPOLIS -- Hundreds, maybe thousands of Indiana families who need help paying for child care could soon get some much-needed relief.
Call 6 Investigates has learned the state of Indiana received a one-time increase $49 million in the spring in new Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) money, a federal program that helps families pay for child care so they can work, attend job training or continue their education.
Currently, 7,643 children are on the CCDF waiting list in Indiana.
“We have received the increased funding and have put together a spending plan that includes bringing families in off the waitlist,” Marni Lemons, Family and Social Services Administration spokeswoman, said in an email to RTV6. “We also intend to set aside funds to help support families who are providing foster care. This plan is in active development, and we will share details on these services as soon as they are finalized.”
Lemons said FSSA is working with the Indiana Department of Child Services.
“FSSA and DCS are committed to interagency solutions and have been discussing shared priorities, including the challenges foster families have in finding and paying for high-quality child care,” Lemons said. “We won’t know if it will be permanent, though, until Congress passes its next budget.”
It’s not yet clear exactly how many families will come off the waiting list as a result of the $49 million one-time increase in CCDF funding.
The average cost of care per month is $569, Lemons said, but it’s not as simple as dividing the 49 million by the cost of care.
RELATED | CCDF allocations by state
Antoinette Williams, director at Precious Moments Early Childhood Academy, says of the 20 students at her day care, half of them are either on CCDF federal vouchers or they’re on the waiting list for them.
“The CCDF waiting list is very long,” Williams said. “It can be as long as two years. We’ve had families waiting two years for funding, and it creates a hardship.”
Williams said the vouchers can make the difference between a parent being able to work or not.
“Parents feel like they have to choose between quality child care and being able to work,” Williams said. “By the time they pay for day care, they feel like they might as well stay home.”
Williams knows the struggle personally.
She is a foster parent and has struggled to get federal vouchers.
"I think it should be used towards foster children and it would be great if that voucher could then follow the child when they go back with their biological parent to give that parent some extra support," Williams said.
Indiana has to use a percentage of the CCDF funds on quality improvement projects like training and professional development for child care providers.
“In addition, for every child we enroll we have to increase our Intake Contract as well as the contract we have with Xerox as they are both paid on a per child basis,” Lemons said.
Williams is looking forward to finding out how the money will be dispersed to families.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Williams. “I just hope they keep it going.”
Kristi Cundiff, CEO of the Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents Resources and Advocacy Group IFAAP, said the money should be used for foster children.
“It is estimated that $10 million will provide childcare for 500 children for 18 months," Cundiff said in an email to RTV6. “There are likely over 2,500 foster families not being supported by childcare benefits from the Indiana Department of Child Services. Foster parents have gone years struggling with low daily per diem's, having to take money from their own monthly budgets, or even one foster parent from a two foster parent family have given up their jobs because of their commitment to foster children and the severity of the needs of some children.”
According to the federal government, Indiana’s portion of $49 million can be used for allowable CCDF purposes, which include child care subsidies to help low-income working families pay for child care, quality improvement activities such as training and professional development for child care providers, implementation of health and safety standards, including background checks and consumer education to help families find and choose child care.
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