Childcare providers can no longer combine funds for preschool services

Posted at 10:05 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 11:35:57-04
A change that could affect your child's education. The state's Department of Jobs and Family Services says beginning in September, childcare providers can no longer combine federal Head Start funds and state dollars to service preschool children.
It is a rule that has been on the books for years, but never enforced until now. Experts say this could throw high quality early-learning out the window for kids coming from low-income families. Right now that reduction in funding is an estimated $2 million.
"The centers has been using multiple funding sources for over 30 years," said Laura Chalker, VP of Education and Family Services for The Centers for Families and Children.
Here is how it works.
Currently, state and federal funds are combined or "layered" to create a 10-plus hour day of service for children utilizing Head Start.
Beginning next month, layering funding is banned for providers who receive child care subsidies.
It is a move that could potentially save the state $12 million.
"12 million dollars from our perspective, is really such a small amount of money compared to the overall state budget," said Elizabeth Newman, President/CEO Centers for Families and Children.
Newman say this new change is bad news for local preschool kids.
"If we reduce enrichment, if we have to increase child to teacher ratios, all of those things add up to less quality," said Newman.
Less teachers is one option. There is also a potential of shorter teaching days.
The news is a tough pill for mother Eva Peeples to swallow.
"A hassle, that's what it would be for me - a hassle," said Peeples.
She and her husband work long hours, and trying to get off early to pick up son, Jordan, would be difficult.
In a memo from jobs and family services, State officials were made aware of the dual payment model last year when reviewing the policy.
Currently the Centers for Families and Children receives $15 million in Head Start funds and they are serving more than 1500 children.