Hawaii child care gets $7.4M boost


POSTED: Friday, April 10, 2009

State officials and legislators squeezed for money in Hawaii's falling economy have received a big federal gift to help local families.

More than $7.4 million has been awarded to the state for human services and health programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka announced yesterday.

State Human Services Director Lillian Koller also reported in an interview that because of increased food stamp cases Hawaii will qualify for extra money in May for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The state now receives $98.9 million annually for that program.

Biden and Hawaii's U.S. senators said Hawaii will receive $5,606,868 for child care for families working, seeking employment or job training; $533,108 for increased child care quality; and $308,739 for infant and toddler child care quality.

Koller said her department has been authorized $2.65 million per year in extra money from the fund for child care subsidies and about $500,000 per year for early learning initiatives.

The rest of the child care money is going to other programs or organizations, she said.

She said the DHS will get an extra $10 million this year and nearly $20 million next year for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

An additional $15 million is expected from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, known as the stimulus package, and that will increase to $25 million next year, she said.

“;So we're really flush for a short period of time. Both (funds) end Sept. 30, 2010.”;

Koller said she reported the increased federal funding to the Legislature and asked for authorization to spend the money.

The funding “;is not sustainable but it will provide short-term relief for 1 1/2 years to help more families avoid poverty and help families in poverty,”; she said.

The reduction and recovery money has been criticized because it is “;short-term turnaround money,”; Koller said. “;It is short-lived but we are very grateful for it. We will use every penny if the Legislature gives us an increase in our federal fund ceiling and authorization.

“;The whole purpose is to spend the money,”; she said. “;We need a stimulus now. We have a needier population now and a steep decline in the economy, which is unprecedented in our case.

“;And we have more people needing assistance, needing job skills training and retraining so they can be placed in jobs.”;

The federal money can't be spent without a legislative appropriation, but it doesn't require matching state money, Koller said, adding that there is no reason for the lawmakers not to appropriate it and authorize her department to spend it.

“;Over the last few years, the Legislature has been curtailing my authorization to spend money. We're trying to encourage them, with all this extra money, there is no worry about depleting the (rainy day) reserve. Let us spend the extra money we're getting.”;

She said the DHS will begin tapering down spending of the federal funds in 2011 and 2012.

“;We're not going to assume that the Reduction Act or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are going to continue. We're making a conservative assumption that it is all going away Sept. 30, 2010.

The Obama administration also is giving Hawaii $988,990 through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for vaccines and grants to develop new ways to encourage vaccinations.

“;Hawaii residents need to know that their children are in safe, quality child care while they work, apply for jobs or train to increase their skills,”; Inouye and Akaka said in a news release. “;Through these initiatives, more working families will have access to affordable child care and more Hawaii residents will have access to vaccines they need to stay healthy and save money on health care costs in the long run.”;



Hawaii's share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's 2009 Child Care and Development Fund breaks down this way:

» $533,108: Increased child care quality
» $308,739: Infant and toddler child care quality
» $5,606,868: Other child care program funding

TOTAL: $6,448,715

» $988,990: Hawaii's funding for immunization efforts under the act

U.S. Pacific territories will receive more than $8.2 million for child care and nearly $1.9 million for immunization.

Additionally, according to the state, Hawaii will receive an extra $30 million this year and next for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. The state now receives $98.9 million annually in federal welfare aid.