By Lisa Renner
Richmond resident Jervice Youngblood is grateful that she receives government-subsidized child care for her 2-year-old daughter while she works as a transit driver.
“I do not have too many family members I can depend on to watch my daughter,” she said. Without the subsidy, “I wouldn’t be able to go to work and make money and it would be hard to pay my bills.”
Youngblood is among the few qualifying low-income parents who use child-care subsidies for children 2 and younger. According to a report released in March by policy group Children Now, only 9 percent of eligible infants and toddlers have state-subsidized child care.
Eligibility for these subsidies is based on state income eligibility guidelines, set at 70 percent of the state median income — or $46,896 for a family of four, said Stacy Lee, managing director of early childhood project integration for Children Now.
Those who work in the child-care field say the chief reasons the subsidies are underused are a severe shortage of child-care spots for that age group, insufficient hours offered by day care providers and reluctance on the part of parents to leave children that young in day care.