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Making My Case

Single Mothers Left With No Option

Thousands of single mothers across the United States are at risk because of the potential massive 2010 budget cuts, forcing them to be left with no day care alternative.

By July 2010 many single mothers receiving child care subsidies will be left with the struggle of finding another form of daycare due to the severe budget cuts in funding.  Across the nation, many states are facing large budget cuts with not enough money coming from the federal government.  Oregon is one of the states that are encountering enormous budget cuts in the area of daycare.  Should the federal government provide more funds to help single mothers afford day care?  Yes, because for many families public assistance is the only form of aid that can lessen the burden of high child care costs.

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was put in place by President Obama which allocated $2 billion among the fifty states to be put towards child care services.  The hefty amount didn’t last very long, which is the issue many states are encountering today.  States have to make budget cuts in the area of child care since money from the state for day care has run low and funding is needed elsewhere.  The issue is leaving many mothers worried that they are at risk for losing their financial assistance from the federal government.  One state experiencing a tremendous lack of funds for child care is Oregon.

In order to qualify for a child care subsidy in Oregon, a single mother must be at or below the federal poverty line which is an income of $18,310 per year for a family of three.  The income has increased from 2008, which was $17,600, so more families are able to receive child care assistance.  The state’s budget has not been able to keep up with the growing numbers of families that are resorting to child care assistance from the federal government.  Oregon’s governor, Ted Kulongoski, is proposing a budget cut of $30.2 million in child care subsidies within the next two years. Under the governor’s new proposal, single mothers already receiving public assistance who are employed will qualify, but new applicants that are low-income will no longer be eligible.  Because of the new qualifications, it is estimated that 2,913 families each month will not be able obtain services from the state.

Denise, a social worker at a non-profit organization called the White Shield Center, says that she can no longer afford to put her daughter in day care because of the large decrease in her child care subsidy.  “I was told I was qualified for 160 hours of daycare, but I found out I only qualified for 140 hours,” she says.  Because of the new qualifications, Denise is now left with $600 that she never expected to pay and is not able to afford.  She had to decide whether or not she should stay at home with her daughter in order to save money on day care or keep working to pay the high costs.  She was left with removing her daughter from day care and finding family members as a short-term day care alternative while she worked to pay off her debt.

Many mothers in Oregon would be in the same boat as Denise if their child care subsidies were either reduced or diminished.  For example, Angela, a single mother of two, says that without government assistance with child care, she wouldn’t be able to work because she wouldn’t be able to afford the high costs of day care.  Similar to that of Angela, Rachel and Mary are single mothers of three children and they also say they wouldn’t be able to work without child care assistance.  A ripple effect is created because without child care subsidies they couldn’t afford day care and would have to stay home, and if they stayed home they wouldn’t be able to afford to live.  It becomes a viscous cycle that is never-ending if the funds are not provided.  Both women say their day care costs are over $1000 per month, which would be impossible to pay with their low income.

Not only are single mothers taking the hit of the enormous budget cuts, day care facilities are affected also.  One single mother in Springfield, OR named Gina Rovier is at risk at losing her client due to the decrease in subsidies.  If Rovier loses her client, she loses her business and her only source of income.  Another woman in Oregon by the name of Wold-Adams runs a day care facility at her home for twelve children, seven of which come from families that use the subsidies.  She’s at risk for losing over half of her clients if the bill was to pass.

Some daycare facilities are taking advantage of single mothers like Francis Sanchez, who’s a mother of two.  With revenue decreasing due to the lack of child care subsidies, daycare facilities are finding ways to make up for the lost income. “They claimed my children were there more hours than they were,” says Sanchez.  Francis works full time but isn’t able to afford the high costs of daycare which has recently forced her to resort to public assistance.  She’s had her child care subsidy for about three or four months and only receives $100 per month for both children.  Her subsidy seems like a good amount, but not when her co-pay alone costs $350 per month.

Some people don’t feel so strongly about the issue and are against the increase of funding for struggling families.  A land lord in Oregon doesn’t want to allow day care facilities to be run at her apartment complex, even though for some struggling mothers the facilities are the only source of income and the only alternative to larger child care facilities.  Some people, like Peter Buckley, feel like there are other things that are more of a priority, such as better care for senior citizens.

Single mothers and their financial struggle for day care is a top priority because if the budget cuts are passed, starting in July over three thousands families will be left with no alternative for day care.  The need for public assistance is only increasing among families and if there is no money to keep up with the growing number, many will find themselves deepened even further into poverty with nowhere to turn.

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