Lots of emotion in child care debate

Lots of emotion in child care debate
Robert Glass
Robert Glass

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Child care may get too expensive for many island families. This after a state proposal aims to scale back subsidies to fill budget gaps.

Kahului's Robert Glass is a disabled veteran on a fixed income. He can barely afford to provide for his family of four.

His son attends preschool, but if the state cuts subsidies, Glass will be forced to pull his son out of school.

"We're already on different furlough workdays, we're hindering the children now, don't do this to the one's that haven't even started, you're cutting their legs before they get a chance to walk," he said.

But it's not just parents who are feeling cornered, schools are also feeling the pinch.

"If you want to see a large portion of kids enter kindergarten ill-prepared, then implement these rule changes, if you want to increase the unemployment rate, then implement these changes," Rainbow School executive director Steve Albert said.

The Childcare Subsidy Program helps pay for about 9,000 kids to attend preschool and other care programs.

Around a hundred people from all over the state came to voice their concerns over this issue, many couldn't hold back their tears.

"I would have to pull her from preschool and quit my job and most likely go on welfare, which is something I'd hope to never do, I'm a college graduate," a parent said.

In some cases, parents would have to come up with an extra $700 a month for childcare. It's an amount Glass and others just can't afford.

"As a veteran I do believe this is what many of them serving now are fighting for, for the children and the possibilities to what they can bring to this great nation," Glass said.

The state's proposed changes call for a sliding scale for the subsidies. It gives more to families with smaller incomes.

"Please consider the long-term effects of these proposed changes, it's not just me, nearly every family I know," a parent said.

The Department of Human Services plans to review all of the comments and suggestions from Monday's hearing. It's not known when they'll make a decision.