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Northam extends increased child care assistance for Virginia; families may now have longer access to $1,000 per month for child care
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Northam extends increased child care assistance for Virginia; families may now have longer access to $1,000 per month for child care

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Northam ceremonially signs House Bill 2206, which increases access to affordable early childhood care

Gov. Ralph Northam announced an extension for the Child Care Subsidy Program to help Virginia’s working families with young children have access to child care.

Earlier this year, Northam signed a bill which increased the income eligibility for the program, allowing families with a household income up to 85% of the state median income to receive financial assistance for child care. The Child Care Subsidy program was originally set to expire on July 31, but has now been extended through Dec. 31.

Under the program, more Virginia families can qualify for child care assistance.

For example, families of four earning up to $89,000 a year access to child care assistance if they have a child under age 5, or not yet in kindergarten. The amount of the subsidy will depend on where a family lives, for example, a family with an infant looking for care in Henrico County can receive assistance valued at around $1,000 per month for care.

This is a significant increase from the previous income eligibility levels, which were approximately $43,000 for a two-person household in Northern Virginia and $32,000 for a two-person household in the rest of the state.

A family of two, such as a single parent, will be eligible if they have a household income up to $60,480, or for a family of three, they would qualify for child care assistance if they have a household income up to $74,712.

“Access to high-quality child care is not only critical to the health and safety of Virginia’s children, but it is also important for advancing a strong, equitable recovery,” Northam said in a statement. “Extending these resources through the end of 2021 will help close the affordability gap for parents and providers, allowing thousands of Virginians to return to work, support their families, and grow our economy.”

Northam has directed the Virginia Department of Education to use existing federal funding to continue covering co-payments for families through Dec. 31.

The expansion of the Child Care Subsidy Program is a result of House Bill 2206, sponsored by House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, which established a new short-term eligibility category for parents seeking financial assistance for child care while they are looking for employment and temporarily expands income eligibility guidelines for families with young children.

More than 1,000 additional Virginia families were receiving child care assistance through the expanded Child Care Subsidy Program as of July 1, according to the governor’s office. The extension of the program is to meet projected increases in demand as parents return to in-person work; 90% of childcare centers in the state were open as-of June, according to the governor’s office, but enrollment in the Child Care Subsidy Program is only at 78% of its pre-pandemic levels.

The General Assembly allocated $62.1 million to the Department of Social Services and the Department of Education across state fiscal years 2021 and 2022 to expand access to the Child Care Subsidy Program.

On July 1, the Department of Education became the lead agency for oversight of early childhood care and education programs in Virginia, in an effort that many hope will build a more unified and equitable system.

For more information about child care assistance in Virginia or to apply for the Child Care Subsidy Program, visit ChildCareVA.com.

ccurran@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6151

Twitter: @collcurran

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