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The Latest: New Mexico denies claims in child care lawsuit

September 26, 2018
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Annette Torres, a single mother, talks about her struggles paying for child care during a news conference in Albuquerque, N.M., on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. Torres is among a group of plaintiffs suing the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department over what they say are illegal regulations that have resulted in low-income families being denied child care assistance. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a lawsuit over New Mexico’s child care assistance program (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

Officials with New Mexico’s child welfare agency are calling claims that it is illegally denying child care assistance to thousands of low-income families preposterous.

Single mothers and an advocacy group sued the Children, Youth and Families Department late Tuesday, saying the agency is using vague regulations to deny child care assistance to families.

Department spokesman Henry Varela said Wednesday that the agency has been working to expand the program for vulnerable populations and that monthly participation has increased by about 4,500 children over the last three years.

He says funding for the program has increased by more than 60 percent since 2015.

The agency also disputes claims that families are not informed of their right to appeal when assistance is denied, saying they can seek a hearing and review their case documents.

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9 a.m.

A group of single mothers and an advocacy group is suing New Mexico, saying the state’s child welfare agency is using vague regulations to deny child care assistance to thousands of low-income families without due process.

The complaint was filed late Tuesday in state District Court by the women and the nonprofit organization OLE.

The plaintiffs contend the Children, Youth and Families Department is illegally denying child care assistance to families with incomes over 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which amounts to a yearly income of $31,170 for a family of three.

They argue the eligibility cutoff is over 200 percent of the poverty level.

The agency also is accused of not informing families of their right to appeal.

The agency has yet to respond to the lawsuit.

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