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Essential workers in W.Va. to stop getting child care assistance they expected

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 11:08 PM EDT
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ELEANOR, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Essential workers in West Virginia are feeling betrayed after learning about a rollback of a COVID-19 child care assistance program.

With the school year barely underway, essential workers say they’re unexpectedly forced to come up with a plan B on what to do with their kids.

“The rug was pulled out from underneath me,” Shanna Goodwin, a nurse case manager who lives in Eleanor, said.

In March, the state allocated CARES Act funding to help pay for child care for essential workers.

“We were promised it was going to be 12 months,” Goodwin said. “It’s ending abruptly.”

Goodwin says that funding was supposed to last a year, but last week she and other essential workers got a letter from the DHHR, which said funding allocated for that purpose has been exhausted, and without additional funding from the federal level, the program would have to be reduced, and many essential workers whose income exceeds a certain level will stop being eligible for the child care assistance after Sept. 30.

“We essential workers are just wondering where did the funds go?” Goodwin said.

Goodwin says it’s incredibly unfair to essential workers, especially at a time when so many districts are not having in-person classes due to the color code metrics.

“It would create a financial hardship that we would not normally have, because our kids would normally be in school at this time,” she said. “It’s definitely something we weren’t prepared for, and had we known our certificate wasn’t going to be granted for the 12 months we were promised, we could’ve already been setting money back, saving week to week.”

Abbie Fisher is the director at Adventure Academy Daycare in Winfield, which has been providing virtual education to children of essential workers.

With this funding ending, she’s afraid parents who are essential workers will have to pull their kids out of daycare.

“It’s a huge blow,” Fisher said. “Our clients are going to stop coming in unless they meet new drastically lowered requirements.”

They’re hoping the state comes up with funding before the cutoff date at the end of the month.

“For essential workers to continue to do their jobs and continue to show up and be expected to not miss work, we have to have something set in stone for kids,” Goodwin said.

State Sen. Glenn Jeffries sent a letter to Gov. Jim Justice, asking him to place $7 million from CARES Act grant funds into child care for essential workers.

“As we work to re-open our economy and get citizens back to their jobs and students back in school, the funding for child care for essential workers is more important than ever,” Jeffries' letter said.

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