Individuals have a far greater chance of entering and remaining in the work force if they receive work supports – child care, food stamps, education and training, housing supports, health insurance, transportation programs, and income supplements such as tax credits and supplemental public assistance – that enable low-income parents to move successfully from welfare to work, maintain stable employment, and improve their skills so they can move out of poverty.
All too frequently, the federal and state governments fail to adequately fund or deny access to necessary work supports. States seeking to reduce expenses can easily do so either by cutting staff or resources in agencies that handle various work supports or by developing administrative procedures that reduce participation rates.
NCLEJ works with colleagues across the country to ensure that individuals and families continue to have access to the necessary work supports they need to find and sustain living-wage employment. Our extensive efforts to secure health benefits and food stamps are described elsewhere on these pages, and our efforts to make child care a viable resource for low-income working parents are detailed below.
Focus on: Child Care
For low-income parents trying to earn a living and take care of their children, consistent and affordable child care is essential. And that’s why, for so many years, governments at the federal, state, and local levels have committed themselves to provide child care subsidies for low income parents. The funding has never been sufficient to provide for all needed help. Now, with increasing cutbacks in these difficult economic times, as family need has grown and government revenues are down, NCLEJ has stepped up its efforts to assure that child care subsidy programs work as they should:
- We have seen how devastating it can be to a child, and a parent, when benefits are wrongly denied or terminated. A care slot is lost and filled by another child. A job is therefore lost. That’s why we look to see if legal challenges can be made and go to court if needed.
- Parents who leave public assistance for employment are entitled to twelve months of transitional child care to help them stay in the workforce. But many parents are not told they are eligible for this benefit, and others have to wait months. We are now working with New York City and State agencies to improve this process.
- Low-income parents can get state certification to operate home-based day care centers. Yet some localities have imposed additional fees and requirements, unrelated to providing safe, affordable care, that threaten to drive these providers out of business and deprive other low-income parents of desperately needed child care. Our court successes have enabled these entrepreneurs to keep their day care centers open.
Highlights of NCLEJ Advocacy: