SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield lawmaker is working to prevent some parents from losing child care assistance as they find higher-paying jobs or get promoted.
The “cliff effect” is where a small hike in wages leads to a loss of government benefits. In Missouri, as little as a $0.15 raise could cost families to lose hundreds in subsidies each month. This is why Representative Crystal Quade hopes to create a pilot program to fix the problem.
“We want folks to work their way out of poverty, but if the policies in place prevent that, then we’re just running in circles,” said Quade.
Creating a sliding scale for child care subsidies has been something Quade has been working towards since being elected four years ago.
“What this does is instead of taking that raise and going over the threshold and losing everything, we will now allow these parents to take a pay raise, and get a little less subsidy, take a pay raise and get a little less subsidy,” said Quade.
Quade says she’s been given to okay to implement the pilot program for three years in three counties. Those counties are Jackson, Clay, and Greene County.
“By implementing a program like this, we will see parents enter into the workforce faster, we will see fewer people on childcare assistance in the long run, but that’s going to take a little bit of time,” said Quade.
She says, unlike previous programs that relied on parents to research and apply on their own, this one will be applied automatically through the Department of Social Services.
There will need to be IT upgrades within the Department, some internal stuff like that,” said Quade.
Similar discussions regarding the “cliff effect” are also going on in Washington, D.C., regarding SNAP Benefits.
“These programs should allow for flexibility, to ensure benefits do not end abruptly and throw workers and their families back into financial turmoil,” said Connecticut Representative Jahana Hayes.
However, some lawmakers say the focus should instead be on finding high-quality jobs for people trying to move up.
“We have to do more to help navigate out of poverty and not just sustain while in poverty,” said Nebraska Representative Don Bacon.
Quade says the pilot program will look to see how much it will cost the state to be able to expand to every county in Missouri.