Legislature Debates Child Care Subsidy

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate Appropriations Committee finished a $24 billion budget for the state Thursday, including a cut to the child care sudsidy. But a Missouri House committee worked Thursday to revise the current eligibilty standards to include more low-income families.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said the funding cut would only be a minor reduction of the child care subsidy program. "It's only $2.7 million out of $189 million for the program. We have to fill out the $500 million shortfall. The thing we don't want to do is to go back to higher education."

But Rep. Jeanette Oxford, D-St. Louis, said the child care subsidy program needs to include more people instead of shrinking. "The Missouri eligibility standard is currently 127 percent of the federal poverty level--one of the lowest of the nation." Oxford  proposes to revise the eligibility to 185 to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The Department of Social Services said the funding cut, if passed, would cause a loss of subsidized child care for 3,860 children and reduced state subsidies for an additional 2,330 children.