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Affordable Child Care
Affordable child care....or the lack of it....can sometimes determine whether a person works or not.
Channel three's Laura Hussey tells us about a program in Okaloosa County that has money ready to help low-income families.
Laura Hussey "We're in the one-year-old room at Horizons Childcare Center. They try to stay very competitive with their prices. But the director says not a week goes by that someone doesn't call, ask the price, and say they just can't afford it"
Monica Scott knows the feeling.
Making nine dollars an hour in home health care, she didn't know how she was going to find care for her daughter Charissa.
Monica Scott "I thought how can I afford it, you know? I mean, I felt like it was going to take my whole paycheck"
Then someone told her to apply at Okaloosa Walton Child Care Services.
For people who meet income requirements, the agency pays anywhere from fifty to ninety percent of child care costs.
Debbie Smith/Horizons Children's Center "Once they come back with that voucher in their hand, they're almost dancing into my office, oh my gosh, I qualified"
The vouchers can be used at many child care providers.
Right now, child care services has funds to add up to 150 kids to their program.
Debbie smith of Horizons says the subsidy can cut a family's cost from $32 dollars a day, to eighty cents a day.
Debbie "That's a huge difference in where a family lives, whether a family can get to jobs, or whether they can even feed their children."
To qualify, parents must work, go to school, or both....at least twenty hours a week,
Little Charissa has been coming to horizons for two years now, while her mom sets an example of overcoming challenges and never giving up.
Monica "I have it mapped out. At first it was really really hard, but now things are much easier"
Laura Hussey "In addition to meeting income guidelines, a family has to have at least one pre-school age child to qualify for help from Child Care Services. In Okaloosa County, Laura Hussey, Channel 3 News"