DHS to stop taking child care applications

DHS to stop taking child care applications

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Thousands of Oklahoma families won't be able to get the help they need from Oklahoma Department of Human Services for child care costs, because of the budget crisis.

On June 1, DHS will put a freeze on accepting applications for their Child Care Assistance Program. The program gives low-income parents a subsidy to help them pay for daycare so they can work. Now, it's being put on hold for at least a few months because of the two state revenue failures and the current budget situation.

More than 2,000 new families in Oklahoma apply for this program every month. So, freezing this program leaves low-income parents who don't already have this subsidy, without help when it comes to paying for daycare.

"They're taking the budget from our most precious resource...our children. You know, they're our future and I know that sounds a little out there but it's the truth. If our children aren't taken care of then who's going to take care of the nation?" Sabrina Busse, a Lawton daycare owner, said.

Busse worked as a teacher and a counselor before opening four daycares in Lawton. She is she's worried Oklahoma's economy will get worse because of this freeze.

"Families are going to find it's cheaper to stay home, it's easier to stay home. They can't afford it. We're going to try to work with them and get through the crunch because my hope is Oklahoma, our legislators, are going to wake up and see that this not just a budget problem. This is going to be a statewide problem," she said.

Workers at DHS find it disheartening that they won't be able to help families like they should.

"So, this is very frustrating that we basically cannot fulfill our mission by having to freeze a particular program and we know that there will probably be bad results because of this," Sheree Powell, director of communications and community relations for DHS, said.

Powell said she worries they might become busier if children cannot attend daycare.

"We're very concerned that if people can't get help paying for child care then people are going to leave their children in unsafe situations, which might result in abuse or neglect of children," Powell said.

Busse recently opened another daycare center and in her four days of accepting subsidies, 24 of the 28 kids enrolled have some sort of subsidy. Since she just opened, she is less than one-third of the way full so this freeze worries her.

"Oh my goodness, it's going to close down daycares. In fact, we're very fearful for ourselves, because this is a new day care facility. Our other facilities are well but established this one was dependent on new business, and as of June 1, there won't be any new child subsidy," Busse said.

Busse and her team came up with a summer program to help get through this freeze by working with parents and adjusting her prices to make sure children are taken care of.

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