Start Young Helps Parent Access Child Care
Improving Access to Child Care in Wyandotte County
Parent Leverages Start Young’s Multilayer Approach
Securing child care can be a significant challenge for anyone, but for many parents, it is an insurmountable obstacle. This is the situation Leila faced after losing her job and along with that, the child care subsidy benefits that enabled her to enroll her son in child care. She couldn’t get a new job without child care, and she couldn’t get child care without a job.
She was feeling like giving up when a friend recommended she apply for a job at a neighborhood child care center. The interview went well and she was offered a job. Before she accepted, she explained her child care dilemma. She was afraid the offer would be rescinded, but to her surprise, the director told her not to worry.
The next day, Leila was back at the child care center sitting in front of Morgan Butler, a TFC child care subsidy advocate. Butler helped Lelia fill out the application for child care subsidy, and after reviewing her documents and confirming that she met the qualifications, she offered her a short-term scholarship that would pay for her son’s care until her benefits became available — which can take weeks. Thanks to TFC, her son’s child care could start on the same day as her new job.
A Flawed Support System
The child care subsidy system is designed to provide parents with low-incomes access to child care. However, several requirements and regulations designed to ensure the program is administered effectively, frequently become detternents for families who need it most.
The subsidy application process typically takes two weeks or longer, and during that waiting period parents who cannot cover the tuition out of pocket, are left with few options but relying on patch-work child care solutions that, at best, are not ideal for their children. The process frequently requires multiple trips to the Department of Children and Families.
Even if a family qualifies for the largest reimbursement, they are often not receiving enough to cover the full cost of child care. Further, families at the higher end of the income qualification frequently face a share of the cost that is far more than they can afford. Parents are often forced to leave the workforce or choose a subpar child care arrangement — often unlicensed, unsafe and lacking the developmental support young children need.
“I worked with a single mother who worked two part-time jobs and made too much to qualify for subsidy. Eventually, she ended up losing one of her jobs, so she reapplied and was awarded subsidy, but it only covered 40 percent of the cost, and she couldn’t accept it” commented Butler.
Helping families navigate the complicated subsidy application process and providing funding for care to start while the application is being processed is just one piece of the puzzle.
As Leila continues to settle into her new routine, she has realized she’s a natural in the classroom, and what she thought was the means to an end, is beginning to look like a career opportunity. In talking with her supervisor, she learned about some of the other supports TFC has to offer and is interested in pursuing her CDA (Child Development Associate), which would provide her with valuable skills to better support the children in her care and her professional career. Thanks to the center’s partnership with Start Young program, the cost of CDA classes would be covered by TFC, and by pursuing it, she would qualify for a salary increase from TFC.
Shortcomings in the child care subsidy system is just one of the many issues addressed by Start Young. As TFC enters the third year of its Start Young program, it has developed a highly-effective, holistic approach to the child care crisis in Wyandotte County, KS. Start Young addresses a multitude of issues to improve the quality and accessibility of child care.