State may give less help for childcare

State may give less help for childcare
Liz Chun
Liz Chun

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many low-income families are on edge as the state considers giving them less help for childcare.

The State Department of Human Service's proposal affects 2,500 kids getting state subsidies and attending licensed preschools.

Some parents may be forced to take their child out of preschool, while some preschools may shutdown.

If the state gets its way, thousands of island families who receive subsidized tuition help for childcare and preschool, may have to cough up more in parent co-pay money.

"So all of a sudden, coming up with an even $120 but in some cases and extra $600 to $700 a month is just not reasonable, wouldn't be reasonable for any family, really," Good Beginnings Alliance executive director Liz Chun said.

Honokaa's Jessica Young has a 3-year-old who attends Ka Hale O Na Keiki Preschool. If her family is forced to pay more, she'll have to quit her job.

"If they get sick or something, it'll devastate our family, we'll go into significant debt, we won't have health insurance and we'll already be in debt because we'll lose my income," she said.

The state's proposed changes to its child care connections and preschool open doors programs, call for a sliding scale for the mostly federally funded subsidies. It gives proportionately more to families with smaller incomes.

"I will lose 25 children and have about five children left that would immediately mean, either layoffs or a restructuring of the services we provide," Ka Hale O Na Keiki Preschool director Pualani Colburn said.

State Human Services director Lillian Koller says that they've received a lot of constructive comments from families, child care providers and other interested parties.

"We look forward to addressing all concerns starting Tuesday, after the public comment period has concluded," she said.

DHS is holding a public hearing on these proposed increases Monday at 2:30 p.m. in Honolulu. It's at the Haseko Center, 820 Millilani Street, Suite 606, Conference Room 2.

"What's most important is for people to realize is that these experiences children are having contribute to their later success and by having a child stop going to preschool, stop being involved in a quality early learning family childcare program will affect their later school readiness," Chun said.