If you're a single parent with two children and earning less than $2,182 a month, there's a good chance the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services will help pay a big part of your day-care bill.
"There's money in the budget, there's not a waiting list, and the application process is really fairly simple," said Penny Schau, economic and employer services supervisor at the SRS office in Lawrence.
Under the program, a single parent with two children who makes less than $2,182 a month would be expected to pay the day-care provider $243 a month. SRS would pay the rest.
Payments are on a sliding scale.
For example, a single parent of two making less than $1,298 monthly would be expected to pay $58 a month in child care. The state would pay the balance.
"We'd really need to get the word out on this," Schau said.
Schau, one of three featured speakers Thursday at a Lawrence Public Library-sponsored forum on child-care issues, asked day-care providers to help her spread the word.
"When you consider that the average day-care bill is about $400 a month, the assistance we're offering can really have an impact on people being able to pay their bills," Schau said.
The child care assistance program is meant to help low-income parents remain in the work force and off welfare.
To be eligible, the child in day care must be a U.S. citizen, have a Social Security number, and be 13 or younger. The parent must be employed and willing to cooperate with child-support enforcement workers.
More information is available by calling the Lawrence SRS office, 832-3700. Ask for a child-care assistance worker.
Other topics discussed at the forum:
l Courtney Romine, a child-care licensing surveyor with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, encouraged parents looking for a day-care provider to narrow their choices to three and then call KDHE's Topeka office, (785) 296-1270, where a worker will share the results of each provider's latest inspection.
"These are public records, you have every right to see them," she said.
l Romine encouraged parents to call her office 843-3060 at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, if they're bothered by conditions at their day-care provider's.
"You don't have to give your name," she said.
l The Douglas County Child Development Assn. operates a free, child-care referral service that matches parents with services at 170 day-care providers in Douglas County.
Currently, Douglas County has about 300 licensed day-care providers. Of these, 170 exchange information with the child development association.
In the past three months, the association's referral service has logged 247 calls. Thirty-eight percent of the calls were from parents seeking day care for infants less than a year old.
To use the referral service, call 842-9679.