SANTA FE, N.M. — More than 750 families on a waiting list to participate in the Child Care Assistance Program were publicly invited by Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday to reapply, after the cap on family income was raised – essentially clearing the waiting list.
The state Children, Youth and Families Department, which administers the Child Care Assistance Program, has sent letters to the 750 families on the waiting list, informing them of their acceptance as long as they reapply by May 31, Martinez said.
There are currently about 18,000 families in the program, getting subsidies that help defray the cost of child care. In addition to family income, the subsidized amount is dependent on the size of the family, age of the child, the type of child care, the location of the program, and the rating of the child care program as determined by the Look for the Stars Quality Rating System.
The announcement, timed with national Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month, was made during a news conference at Noah’s Ark Children’s Center in Albuquerque, a five-star rated facility.
“Child care assistance is one of the best tools we have to prevent child abuse,” Martinez said, and it is particularly important for parents who are working or going to school and “should never have to leave their children with inappropriate caretakers.”
Over the last few months, she noted, a number of incidents have been in the news about children being harmed or killed “because they were left in the hands of someone who should never have been taking care of a child,” and who had no interest in ensuring the safety of these children.
New Mexico families earning as much as 200 percent of the federal poverty line – an increase from the previous 150 percent – may apply for the Child Care Assistance Program.
That means a family of four with an income of about $48,600 or less a year is now eligible. Before the expansion, the same family earning more than around $36,000 a year would have been ineligible. Likewise, a single parent with one child and an income of $32,000 a year or less, is now also eligible.
“Then there are families who haven’t applied at all, families who are just outside the income limit but also need these valuable services,” Martinez said. “So today we are also expanding access for them, too, as long as they apply by the end of May as well.”
Since Martinez took office, she has increased Child Care Assistance Program funding by more than $14 million.