Arkansas child-care voucher list gets help with $26M grant

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A new $26 million federal grant is expected to result in thousands of Arkansas low-income children being taken off of a waiting list for child-care vouchers.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the new Child Care Development Fund block grant on Thursday. It’ll be used to fund 3,800 more child-care voucher slots, which erases the list of the more than 2,000 children waiting for assistance due to funding constraints, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .

The number of children who now can be served by programs for infants and toddlers, pre-kindergarten, after-school and summer break has increased from 5,300 to 9,100.

“Early childhood education is a building block for success in life,” Hutchinson said.

The vouchers pay for all or some of child-care costs for families earning less than 200 percent of the poverty level. Recipients must have at least one child in the home age 12 or younger. At least one parent also must work at least 30 hours per week, go to school full-time or be enrolled in a certificate or training program.

“Arkansas has strong, high-quality early childhood programs, so it is exciting to know that we will be able to provide more hardworking families access to those services,” said Tonya Williams, director of the Human Services Department’s Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. “Research shows that the earlier you get children into high-quality learning programs, the better they will do as they progress through school.”

The funding is part of a two-year budget deal signed by President Donald Trump in February that increases the federal grant by $5.8 billion.

“I am grateful that Congress and President Trump saw fit to send more money back to the states,” Hutchinson said.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,