Posts tagged Christina Ostrom
Co-locating Child Care Assistance Program with county’s other human services will boost efficiency, access
Boulder County, Colo. - As need continues to increase in the community for help with child care costs, Boulder County is moving to reintegrate administration of a key program that provides that assistance.
The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is a statewide resource for families who need help covering the costs of child care as they’re working, seeking a job, or pursuing an education.
In Boulder County, CCAP has been administered by a third-party private vendor, Aspen Family Services. County leaders recognized an opportunity for streamlining the CCAP enrollment process by integrating it with other self-sufficiency-supporting services that the county oversees.
“Child care assistance is an extremely important support for parents who are struggling to find and keep jobs,” said Christina Ostrom, Family and Resident Support Services Division Manager for the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services (BCDHHS). “We know that quality child care along with strong work supports, access to healthcare and food assistance, and stabilizing financial benefits is a combination that leads to self-sufficiency.”
Since 2008, BCDHHS has seen a 150 percent increase in need for Food Assistance (formerly known as “food stamps”), and a 63 percent increase in need for Medicaid services. During this time, the county has continued to work to more efficiently meet this increase in need and to ensure clients understand the full range of services available to them.
BCDHHS staff have access to state and county eligibility systems and databases, which means the transition of CCAP into the department will reduce wait times for clients after they submit applications for the program. County staff will also be able to quickly connect clients with other services they may need in addition to child care assistance.
“This is an exciting time for the county,” said Boulder County Commissioner Cindy Domenico. “We have an opportunity to bring vital services together to strengthen and widen our safety net, and this will help countless families get the comprehensive help they need now.”
CCAP covers much of the cost of child care for qualifying families through a network of providers across the county. In order to reach more families with this assistance, Boulder County recently returned eligibility guidelines for the program to 2009 levels to include families with incomes up to 225 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (for example, $3,474 gross monthly income for a family of three). A portion of the CCAP program in Boulder County, including this expansion, is funded by Ballot Initiative 1A, a temporary property tax increase passed by voters in 2010 to backfill human services budget cuts. In addition to expanding eligibility, this funding has allowed the county to further support quality child care options in the community.
Ongoing operating expenses for in-house CCAP administration will be cost neutral for the county. BCDHHS will reintegrate administration of CCAP in Boulder County during the first quarter of 2013. A series of meetings will be held in August to share information with county partners on the transition.
Boulder County expanding access to quality child care assistance by raising qualifying income limits
Boulder County, Colo. – As increasing numbers of families in Boulder County struggle with economic challenges, the county is expanding access to quality child care assistance to help them re-establish their self-sufficiency.
Effective July 1, Boulder County will raise Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) income limits by over 25%. Previously, a family with income above 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) was ineligible for financial assistance for child care. Under the expanded eligibility guidelines, a Boulder County family can now have income up to 225% of the FPL and still qualify. As an example, for a family of three, this increases monthly income limits from $2,857 to $3,580. The expansion was requested by the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services (DHHS) and approved by county commissioners.
“Work supports are a crucial part of an economic recovery,” said Jennifer Eads, director of DHHS’ Self-Sufficiency and Community Support Division. “The more we can do to help parents find jobs or complete their education, the better their chances are for re-building a lasting foundation for their families.”
An important part of Boulder County DHHS’ mission is removing barriers to work for families struggling to sustain themselves. CCAP provides crucial supports for parents and caregivers who are looking for a job or who are employed but are unable to afford quality care for their children. Boulder County’s expansion of this program recognizes both the ongoing employment challenges and the high cost of living in the county.
Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner said she was happy to support the eligibility expansion. “This has been a difficult past few years for so many of our neighbors,” Gardner said. “If we are going to have a real and lasting recovery, we need to help people get back on their feet.”
Currently, parents and caregivers of nearly 1,000 children are receiving child care assistance through CCAP in Boulder County. Quality child care providers across Boulder County accept CCAP payments. The county currently receives about ten applications per month from families above 185% of the FPL. Of the seventeen Colorado counties now allowing incomes up to 225% of the FPL, Boulder County is the largest in terms of population.
Christina Ostrom, Boulder County’s Family and Resident Support Services Division Manager, oversees the CCAP program and the county’s partnership with Aspen Family Services, which administers the eligibility portion of the program. “I’m thrilled that Boulder County is able to increase the income limit for families struggling to pay child care costs,” she says. “Many families don’t realize they are eligible, and hopefully now they’ll call for a screening.”
The CCAP expansion will be funded through revenue generated by the Temporary Human Services Safety Net (TSN). The TSN (Ballot Initiative 1A) was approved by voters in November 2010, and is a five-year increase in property taxes that is designed to backfill cuts to state funding for human services in Boulder County.
CCAP Eligibility and other requirements are available at www.bouldercountychildcare.org or by calling Aspen Family Services at 303-604-1043, extension 2828.