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600 Randolph County kids may lose child care subsidy

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ASHEBORO, NC -- The Randolph County Department of Social Services has overspent its allotment for child care subsidies, so as many as 600 children may lose that subsidy on December 1.

Dozens of Daycare directors met with the DSS Wednesday to discuss ways to avoid the cuts.

They mainly discussed two issues: why the program was on pace to spend 137% of its budget after just three months and how the program could overcome the overspending and cut fewer kids' subsidies.

"The ceiling that we have for spending is a concrete ceiling. It's not a glass or a rubber ceiling that we can expand or bust," said DSS associate director Richard Park. "It may seem like jerking them around, but serving someone for three months is better than serving them no months at all."

Park said the program spent as much as $500,000 per month over the summer in order to provide care to as many kids as possible while school was out over the summer. Now, Park says the spending rate must be cut to somewhere around $250,000 per month.

Daycare providers like Melissa Brown of My Circle of Friends Daycare offered to lower rates to help cut the spending rate and keep more kids enrolled.

"Well what can we do? Because we're the ones ultimately that have to face the parents, that have to face the families, Brown said. "It's going to hurt but the whole thing is we want to save the children."

Also at issue is that the program routinely sends back hundreds of thousands of dollars to the state because it is not spent. Last year Randolph County DSS returned around $275,000, which Park said means they spent over 95% of the allocated funds.

Park said DSS plans to use a better formula to predict how much to spend and when, next year. The exact formula has not been finalized.