Ohio Poverty Guidelines 2024: Impact on Social Services

Ohio Poverty Guidelines 2024: Impact on Social Services


Ohio Poverty Guidelines – Ohio Poverty Guidelines 2024: Impact on Social Services

Federal Comment Period Closing

On July 13, the federal Office of Child Care announced a proposed rule poised to significantly alter child care in Ohio. This brief highlights key aspects of the proposal and its potential impact on families and child care providers.

Proposed Rule Overview

Titled “Improving Child Care Access, Affordability, and Stability in the Child Care and Development Fund,” the proposed rule aims to:


– Lower child care costs for families
– Stabilize child care providers
– Expand child care options
– Simplify enrollment processes

Lowering Child Care Costs for Families

Ohio families often struggle to afford child care. Currently, families can enroll in Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC) if their gross monthly household income is at or below 145% of the federal poverty level ($2,783 for a family of three). Once enrolled, they can remain eligible as their income increases, up to 300% of the federal poverty level ($5,758 for a family of three).


At present, families with a monthly income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level ($1,919 for a family of three) do not pay a co-pay. Above this threshold, co-payments increase with income. The proposed rule would cap co-payments at 7% of family income, providing savings and reducing financial stress for many families. This change would not affect families already exempt from co-payments.

**Impact on Families**: Families earning between 100% and 150% of the federal poverty level would save approximately $150 to $250 per month under the new rule.

Enhancing Stability for Child Care Providers

Child care providers face financial instability, especially those offering PFCC, which can impact the quality of care. The proposed rule addresses this by:

Changing Payment Structures: Payments to PFCC providers would be based on enrollment rather than attendance, ensuring predictable funding.
Advance Payments: ODJFS would be required to pay providers before services are delivered, aligning with private sector practices.


These adjustments aim to create a more stable financial environment, encouraging more providers to participate in PFCC, thereby increasing child care options and improving quality.

Aligning Reimbursement Rates with Market Rates

To provide high-quality care, child care workers need to be adequately compensated. Ohio currently uses a market rate survey to determine PFCC provider reimbursements, which vary widely. For instance, the 25th percentile for infant care at a center is $8.12 per hour, while the 75th percentile is $15 per hour.

Federal Mandate: Ohio must increase its reimbursement to at least the 50th percentile of the market rate. The proposed rule encourages reimbursement at the 75th percentile to ensure all parents can access high-quality child care.

Comparative Analysis: Even at the 50th percentile, Ohio would lag behind neighboring states like Kentucky (92nd percentile), Michigan (87th), and West Virginia (80th).

Paying Providers the Established Subsidy Rate

Ohio’s current law prohibits paying child care providers more than the rate paid by private-pay families, disadvantaging providers in low-income areas. The proposed federal rule encourages states to pay PFCC providers at the state-established reimbursement rate, even if it exceeds private-pay rates, to improve care quality and provider participation.

Simplifying Enrollment in PFCC

The proposed rule includes strategies to make child care assistance more accessible:

Presumptive Eligibility: Families would receive temporary, immediate access to PFCC while completing the formal application process.
Simplified Verification: Enrollment in other programs like SNAP or Head Start could be used to streamline PFCC eligibility.

These measures aim to eliminate unnecessary barriers, ensuring that eligible families can access the assistance they need without disruption.

Funding and Implementation Concerns

The expiration of federal ARPA child care funds and the lack of sustainable state funding pose significant challenges. Additional federal funding is crucial to fully implement the proposed changes.

Conclusion

Ohio’s leaders must adopt the proposed strategies to make the state more family-friendly. The Office of Child Care proposes a five-year phase-in for the new rules, but the key question remains whether federal lawmakers will provide the necessary funding.

Action Steps

To support these changes, individuals and organizations can:

1. Sign on to a collective letter for state and national organizations.
2. Use template comments from the NPRM for public comment.
3. Refer to documents for tips on customizing comments.

Resources

– NPRM for Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) regulations
– FAQ from Community Change
– Tips on adding individual details to public comments

Endnotes

[1] In FY 2020, 62% of Ohio families enrolled in PFCC had an income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level.
[2] Changes in Ohio’s budget will make the Ohio Department of Children and Youth the state’s lead agency by January 2025.
[3] There are three different market rate tiers depending on the county and other factors, with varying reimbursement rates.

By addressing high costs for families, stabilizing providers, enhancing child care quality, and simplifying access to assistance, Ohio can build a more supportive system for all children and families.

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