Child care funds going unused

Thousands of local children are losing out on access to millions of dollars in free child care funds because of non-flexible rules in how this funding can be spent. Supervisor Don Knabe, chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, unveiled a plan this week that includes changing these funding rules in order to ensure that local children fully benefit from all the child care support they are entitled.Child care providers in Los Angeles County, both in-home and private, have access to millions of dollars in child care funding from the state of California every year to provide subsidies that allow children from low-income families access to child care. The problem is that child care providers face antiquated contracting processes which impair their ability to serve as many children as possible at the highest level of quality. The result is that between 2005 and 2008, over $162 million in unused child care funds were sent back to the state from providers in Los Angeles County. The need for those dollars is well documented. In 2008, only 11,000 infants who qualify for subsidized care were served, out of an eligible population of 116,000. Only 28,000 qualifying school-age children were served, out of an eligible population of 260,000. Only 32,000 of preschool aged children were served out of an eligible population of 110,000. There are also more than 51,000 children on waiting lists for subsidized care in this county, 60 percent of which are in need of full-time care. "The fact that we are sending even a single dollar back to the state is unacceptable, and this situation is but one example of the inefficient 'silo' approach we have in place on this issue," Knabe said. "Clearly the rules for how this child care funding can be spent are not aligned with the needs of our children locally. "With my motion today, we are going to be looking closely at why this is happening and how we can fix it so that our children have access to all the child care they are entitled to have." Provided by the County of Los Angeles ********** Published: January 9, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 38