- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Funding for a child care assistance program administered by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will increase beginning in August.

The move comes more than a year after state officials cut thousands out of the program and stopped taking new applications for it amid an $86 million budget shortfall.

The Lexington Herald Leader (https://bit.ly/1yJqw1U) reports Gov. Steve Beshear announced last week that funding for the program would be restored on Aug. 4 and the eligibility requirement would be loosened, which will allow more parents to qualify for it.

Parents and child care providers had voiced frustration at the previous lack of communication how the funding would be restored. Many thought the restored funding would be available when the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

Lawmakers gave the program $38.6 million for next fiscal year and $58.1 million for the following year.

The delay was caused because officials were working out a plan to loosen requirements for the program after they were tightened last year amid the budget woes.

At the time, state officials cut the income requirements for families from 150 percent of the federal poverty level to 100 percent. That led to almost 14,000 children being cut from the program and hundreds of child care centers closed.

When the program is opened back up on Aug. 4, families can have incomes of up to 140 percent of the federal poverty level. That will go back to 150 percent next July.

“By restoring funding and raising eligibility for the coming year, we are pledging our support to our families despite ongoing budget cuts and shortfalls,” Beshear said in a statement.

State officials say they expect the program to serve about 31,000 children across the state each month by the end of next fiscal year.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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