States boost child care money as congressional effort stalls

ALBANY, NY (AP) — Difficulties in finding affordable child care cost Enoshja Ruffin her job three years ago. The mother of six was let go from her position as a counselor for children with cerebral palsy after she missed three shifts because she had trouble finding babysitters.

After three months on a waiting list, though, she placed her children in a day care center whose cost was covered by government subsidies and the center’s financial assistance program.

“Had I not gotten financial help, I would not have been successful. I would not have a degree. I would just be another statistic,” said Ruffin, 28, of Utica, New York, who was able to take college classes while her kids were in day care. She now works as an organizer for the liberal political group Citizen Action.

Democrats in Washington had big ambitions this year to boost child care subsidies nationally as part of a broad domestic spending bill. But with those plans stalled because of a lack of bipartisan support, some states moved ahead with plans of their own.


New York lawmakers passed a state budget in the spring that calls for it to spend $7 billion to make child care more affordable over the next four years.

The legislation will double previous state support for government subsidies that help families shoulder part or all of their child care costs. Eligibility will be expanded to more middle-income families. Under the new rules, a family of four with an annual household income of up to $83,250 will be eligible for subsidies.

New Mexico last spring raised income eligibility for subsidies to the highest level of any state. A family of four with an annual household income of up to $111,000 can now qualify for at least some government aid. Until June 2023, New Mexico will also waive child care copays, which saves families $400 to $900 per month, based on their income level.

Rhode Island lawmakers passed a state budget last month that provides a one-time tax credit of $250 per child to help pay for child care, nearly doubles the number of seats available in government-funded prekindergarten programs, and provides subsidies for child care workers.

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