Kid-care aid cut delay urged


POSTED: Friday, December 04, 2009

State Rep. John Mizuno wants the state Department of Human Services to delay carrying out proposed changes in state child-care subsidies until May 2011.

But department Director Lillian Koller said unless the child-care subsidy program is restructured, its budget will be depleted by the end of February.

Koller, speaking at a news conference yesterday, said the department needs to change the schedule of child-care subsidies starting in January to be able to meet the budget through June.

“;The timing of this is being crisis-driven,”; Koller said. “;This isn't something we want to do.”;

The program serves 7,792 families with 14,577 children up to age 13, with subsidies going to child-care services, including those provided by preschools and relatives.

Koller said the department pays as much as $1,395 per child a month. She added that 56 percent of the subsidized families choose the least expensive form of child care, which is provided by relatives.

Koller is scheduled to meet with state legislators today to discuss the proposed revisions — which have been criticized by some low-income recipients who say a decrease in their subsidy would force them to quit their jobs to watch their children.

The meeting is at 11:30 a.m. at Conference Room 329 at the state Capitol.

;[Preview]    Child care subsidies to local families will be cut greatly

State Health Services Director Lillian Koller announced child care subsidies to local families my be cut by as much as 80 percent.

Watch ]


Mizuno (D, Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley-Fort Shafter) said if the rule changes are adopted, many families in Hawaii will be left with unfavorable alternatives — removing their children from preschool, finding a full-time baby sitter or ending their employment to return home.

Koller said the department has experienced a 21 percent increase in subsidy requests and a 10 percent increase in expenditures in the child-care subsidy program.

She said child-care costs have risen by about $52 a child per month compared with last year.

According to recently released figures, Koller said, her department has increased the budget for child-care subsidies to $66 million, about $8.5 million more than last year.

Koller said the revised schedule will have the most impact on some 1,600 subsidized families who have a higher household income, but low-income welfare recipients will continue to receive a 100 percent subsidy.

She said only 17 percent of the subsidized families receive welfare.