Increase in child care assistance starts July 1

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Cost saving measures implemented in Moffat County's child care assistance program have proven successful enough that commissioners have raised the poverty level from the minimum mandated by the state.
Effective Thursday, the poverty level for childcare assistance eligibility will return to 145 percent of poverty. In February, commissioners lowered the eligibility level to 130 percent of poverty, because the overextended assistance rolls were going to deplete the county's childcare allocation and reserves.
"The cost saving measures worked and now we can come back," Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said.
Other cost-cutting measures included the introduction of a waiting list for childcare assistance recipients. Seven families were on the waiting list as of June 25, said Marie Peer, Moffat County Social Service director. That list has had a high turnover lately, but there is no predicting when the next client can expect assistance.
"The ideal thing is to get rid of the waiting list," Peer said.
One client was cut when commissioners lowered the level in February.
In July or early August at the latest, Peer expects to learn the amount the state will allocate to Moffat County for childcare assistance. She is working on an application to classify Moffat County as a rural resort community.
The upgrade from rural to rural resort would mean a larger childcare allocation for the county.
After receiving the allocation, counties have 30 days to appeal the decision. Peer said she expects the application to be finished before the allocation is known.
In another effort to keep costs down, Peer asked local child care providers if they could lower their rates for county assistance cases. Some providers lowered their rates, while others simply couldn't afford it, Peer said.
Raftopoulos said the percentage of poverty level was flexible, and if the county begins running out of funds for the program again, the level could always be lowered.
In Nov. 2003, the commissioners lowered the eligibility level from 185 percent to 145 percent. Peer said she hoped the county someday would be able to afford to raise the eligibility level back to 185 percent.

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