One local Florida community is expanding and improving its child care and childcare programs.
The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is a state of Florida program that provides childcare subsidies to qualifying families. The program was established to help low-income working parents with childcare costs in Florida. Each county is provided with a federal waiver to set its own requirements for the program.
It is known as one of the most important programs in Florida’s Community Consolidated Services (CCS) budget. CCAP covers costs for up to 30 days of licensed childcare, day care or preschool tuition for up to three children, per household. Unfortunately, the program is facing many challenges that may cause it to lose access in Broward County.
How CCAP Works
CCAP is separate from the state’s child care voucher program, which is administered by Florida CHILD.
Coral Springs Mayor Steve Geller says the program enables child care programs to function as independent entities. Broward County’s CCAP is administered by a Broward CCAP project advisory group, where the options for CCAP were brought before the County commissioners.
County Commissioner Nicki Grossman says that the program supports the development of a new collaborative between the Broward County Public Schools and the Broward County Community Action Council.
“The schools have tremendous support in student achievement, but not that same focus in quality. Through this project, our students can get all of the benefits of education, but also the greatest opportunity for economic stability,” said Ms. Grossman.
However, the program has been operating outside of the county’s budget, causing the County to start looking at new options.
Consequences of Having No County Budget
The program had to come up with a final budget plan as of June 30, 2018. Without a county budget, or proper funding, the program could not operate.
However, the project team agreed to start operating with a budget of $3 million, with possible budget cuts to come.
A Budget That is Almost Complete
The project advisory group has reached the final stages of what it calls the budget task force, meaning that the program is expected to have a budget in place as of Dec. 1, 2018. The final plan includes nearly $3 million, less than 10 percent of its current budget.
According to CCAP project leader Angie Hargrave, all families are now eligible to apply for CCAP and will have the funds available immediately, instead of waiting to February.
South Broward Women: ‘It’s Hard to Remember The Times We Didn’t Have Anything’
Angie Hargrave is a CCAP project leader working with just under 800 families in South Broward Women Inc. Because there is no funding for childcare in South Broward County, providers need to have a county child care provider certification, which could take up to six months. When there is no funding, it is difficult for providers to complete those hours, rendering them unable to qualify for the program.
Many families in South Broward find themselves struggling with the program’s low fees. On average, the average monthly childcare fee in South Broward is just under $200, which could cause a parent to have to choose between paying for child care or buying gas.
BAR CEO Juliet Richter Tabor said, “The county board, the city of Weston, state legislators and Palm Beach County Commissioner Mike Levinson showed immense leadership during the six-month budget task force. It is now absolutely imperative that South Broward government leaders gather in March to pass a South Broward Children and Family Support Endowment. We need a robust capital fund so that when the state cuts funding, the County Commissioners will be able to deliver more services through the Community Consolidated Services budget for all of South Broward County.”
“We’re totally out of money to manage programs for South Broward children and families,” Boca Raton Mayor Cary Glickstein said. “We just don’t have enough money from the state and from the voters, so we have to start working with our schools to expand our child care programs. And we have to start paying for our child care here in South Broward. The county Board and our City Commission have been proactive about it, and we need their support to get us started.”
“One of the main goals is making sure South Broward has our own child care provider certificate,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that other agencies had to fight for it. We worked as hard as we could for it, but it took too long for them to get it done. I’m glad that we have a plan for it that’s ready to go forward now.”