Starting Jan. 1, Ozarks Regional YMCA will no longer allow parents to use a state-issued adoption subsidyÂ to pay for child care offered before and after the school day at certain locations.
It will also raise its rates, slightly, for most members.
Julie Eaton, director of marketing and communications, said the decision to no longer accept the state-issued subsidy was made locally and prompted by changes coming from the Missouri Department of Social Services.
In 2020, the YÂ will not accept the subsidy at the 10 child care locations where less than 10 percent of participants are on state pay or assistance and less than 50 percent of childrenÂ qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, a national measure of poverty.
The move is expected to directly affect 37 Springfield area families, including Jeremy Sullivan, who has four children with his husband, Michael. He said theÂ subsidy was a huge help in covering child care costs for the family.
“Families that have adopted kids out of the foster care system, myself included, we have four adopted kids, received notification that they are no longer going to accept adoption subsidy to cover the cost of kids’ before- and after-school care,” he said. “That means families will now have to be paying out of pocket instead of through the adoption subsidy.”
The Y operates a structured before- and after-school program at many Ozarks schools. It includes a snack, physical activity, play and homework help. The program begins at 6:30 a.m. until school starts and immediately after school until 6:30 p.m. when schools are in session.
The Y serves more than 2,500 children from nearly 1,100 families.
Eaton said the state subsidy will be accepted at 19 locations but not these 10 others: Disney, Field, Gray, McBride, Sequiota, Wilder and Phelps in Springfield Public Schools andÂ Immaculate Conception, St. Agnes and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Springfield Catholic Schools.
“Out of the schools no longer receiving subsidy, four of the locations currently have one subsidy child or less currently enrolled in the program,” Eaton said.
To help offset the expense, any family affected by the change will automatically qualify for a 50 percent rate reduction, she said.
An added expense in the middle of the school year
Sullivan said the state allows families to use the subsidy to cover child care costs until age 13.
“It is one of the reasons why many families are able to adopt out of the foster system,” he said. “For my family, that is an increased monthly expense, because they are giving us a discounted rateÂ of $440.”
Families were notified of the change in late November. Sullivan said the added expense will start at a difficult time.
“It’s crazy that in the middle of the school year, after the holidays, a philanthropic, religiously-based organization is telling families of children adopted out of that foster care system that they are no longer going to accept their state pay,” he said.
Eaton explained that due to state regulations, all parentsÂ â private or state payÂ â must now enter their information into the Child Care Business Information Solutions system.
“This CCBIS system concerns us in that this is a breach of confidentiality for those in private pay systems. In addition, the system requires the use of WiFi, which we currently do not have in the schools,” she said. “This will also increase staffing costs to maintain the system daily for manually signing a child in and out of programs and ongoing equipment costs and upgrades.”
However, if more than 10 percent of the children enrolled in a Y program at a school, the Y can renew its contract with the state and accept payments.
“While we did make the decision to discontinue subsidy at certain schools on a local level, we are a member of the Missouri State YMCA Alliance which has lobbyists who speak on our behalf,” Eaton said. “The Alliance is currently voicing our concerns about these changes as they will affect all YMCAâs across the state. At this time we are not the only YMCA association makingÂ this tough decision.”
In a Dec. 1 email, the Ozarks Regional YMCA informed members that rates will go up slightly in 2020 because of higher operational costs.Â
For example, the membership fee for an adult will go from $45 to $46 a month and the fee for aÂ family will go from $66 to $68 a month. Financial assistance is available for low-income families.
In the email, the Y noted it offers 176 weekly group exercise classes for youths, adults, family and seniors as well as supervised childcare.
The Y also outlined a series of facility upgrades in 2019 including new gym floors and racquetball courts, new equipment and circuit pieces designed to be accessible for wheelchair use.
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