Emlee Reiter, 5, plays Tuesday afternoon while attending Tracy Delliquadri's Little Bear Child Care, a day care she runs out of her home. County officials have agreed to increase the income limit on a federal and state-funded assistance program.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Emlee Reiter, 5, plays Tuesday afternoon while attending Tracy Delliquadri's Little Bear Child Care, a day care she runs out of her home. County officials have agreed to increase the income limit on a federal and state-funded assistance program.

Families to get child care aid

County agrees to increase income limit on assistance program

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— Under new rules, more Routt County families will be eligible to receive financial help with child care.

Routt County Board of Commissioners approved a change last week that will allow families at 225 percent of the federal poverty level to get help. That translates to a $3,975 gross monthly income for a family of four.

Aid through the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program had been capped at 185 percent of the federal poverty level, said Vickie Clark, director of the county's Department of Human Services.

"We'll be able to serve probably double the number of families we are able to help with child care assistance," Clark said. The program now is helping about 35 families.

Parents still must pay a fee for care, which starts at $5 a day for families at 100 percent of the poverty level. Those with higher incomes must pay more. The maximum is $40 a day, Clark said, adding that the average cost of child care in Routt County is $50 a day.

The change will not increase the county's costs, Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said. Federal and state funding pays for much of the program.

Using the federal poverty line as a standard works well in metropolitan areas, she said. But in Routt County, officials have to consider that costs of housing, food and other necessities are higher. Rio Blanco and Moffat counties use the 225 percent cutoff.

"The goal here is to cover people who are having a hard time with a crucial expense," Mitsch Bush said.

Until four years ago, the county assisted families that made up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, Commissioner Doug Monger said. Finance issues required the county to shift that down to 185 percent, and it can now inch the figure back up, he said.

In other child care news, First Impressions is planning a push to increase the number of home child care providers, Early Childhood Manager Stephanie Howle said.

The group will start advertising the recruitment program next month. It will reimburse licensing costs and materials for providers, help with the licensing process, and arrange mentoring for prospective home child care providers.

Howle said the group hopes to sign on new providers to deal with what she called a crisis in child care. There is a particular shortage of care for children younger than 2 in Routt County, she said.

"We're hoping to increase the number of family providers because with a family provider, it's a development-appropriate environment" for that age group, Howle said.

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