SALEM — House Speaker Tina Kotek led more than a dozen witnesses urging lawmakers to expand state subsidies for child care for low-income working families.
Kotek said the aim is not just to add families “but to make it work better.”
Kotek, D-Portland, and others testified Monday to the House Human Services and Housing Committee about House Bill 2015.
The bill proposes to:
• Guarantee eligibility for the program, known as Employment Related Day Care, for 12 months regardless of a change in employment status. Families still will have to notify the state when they change child-care providers.
• Raise the eligibility limit from 185 to 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The 100-percent level for a family of three in 2015 is $20,090, according to the Federal Register, so the limit for such a family would be raised from $37,166 to $50,225.
• Allow self-employed parents to become eligible again, as they were before budget cuts eliminated them in 2009. About 200 families would be affected by this change.
• Allow some people to qualify for subsidies when they attend classes and require child care.
• Give incentives for child-care providers to improve quality, and for families to make lower co-payments.
The Department of Human Services endorsed the bill, which was the product of a work group involving Kotek and others. Its chief sponsors are Kotek and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton.
Kotek was co-leader of the Legislature’s human services budget subcommittee in 2009 and 2011.
Lawmakers hope to increase state support for the program by up to $6 million, which also would allow the Department of Human Services to extend subsidies to between 1,000 and 1,500 families. The program serves 8,000 per month, but there is a waiting list of about 1,600 requests.