KUNM

CYFD Proposes To Tighten Eligibility For Childcare Assistance

May 30, 2019

Thousands of New Mexicans would no longer be able to sign up for childcare assistance under a rule proposed by the Children Youth and Families Department this week.

of New Mexicans would no longer qualify for childcare assistance under  by the Children Youth and Families Department this week.

Right now, families with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level are eligible to enroll in childcare assistance from the state. CYFD wants to cap enrollment eligibility at 160 percent – or about $34,000 for a family of three.

Maria Griego, a supervising attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, said the proposed rule would prevent thousands of families from signing up for childcare subsidies, "meaning they’ll have to forgo important job opportunities or drop out of school because they won’t be able to get on childcare assistance."

Families who are currently enrolled would still remain eligible up to 200% of the federal poverty level.

A judge earlier this month found that CYFD failed to go through the required public process when they tightened eligibility for the program a few years ago. A legal settlement also requires CYFD to clarify how it calculates co-payments for families, which Griego says the proposed rule partially does. 

"The real unresolved issue here," said Griego, "is that, still, these proposed regulations do nothing to address affordability for co-payments, and that’s really an issue that is a result of the Legislature not properly funding this program."

The department is taking public comment on the proposed regulation through July 8, when they’ll hold a public hearing.

Clarification: This story has been edited to reflect that under the proposed rule, families who enrolled with incomes at or below 160% of the federal poverty level would be able to remain enrolled in childcare assistance with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level. 

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