After no longer having enough money to meet the demands of all those who qualify, low-income parents are now being put on a waitlist until the issue gets resolved.
Although they’re trying to get everything squared away as soon as possible, according to Oregon Early Learning Director Alyssa Chatterjee on Wednesday, it could take as long as 18 months until the problem is properly handled.
This unexpected hold was made after demands from qualified parents surged following recent changes that broadened the pool of those who were able to apply for subsidies and lowered co-pays.
The families who are already receiving said subsidies on behalf of roughly 23,000 children will be able to keep them.
The waitlist will be put onto anyone who applies and is found eligible after November 3rd, giving families a small window to apply before they’ll have to wait an indefinite amount of time to receive the benefits they need. There are some exceptions to the waitlist, such as children who qualify for temporary assistance due to one of three things: very low incomes, domestic violence, or are referred to the state by child welfare officials. They will be getting subsidies right away.
The changes made were so that it would not only lower co-pays, but also guarantee that families would be able to stay within the program for 12 months once they’ve started receiving subsidies. After this change was made, enrollment into the program rose more than 50%, far more than officials had been expecting.
According to Chatterjee, her agency and Governor Tina Kotek plan to request from the legislature an additional $50 million during next year’s session to help fund the program and increase the number of subsidies available. However, just because they’re going to request it doesn’t mean it’s going to be approved. Until then, those who are put on the waitlist will be in a limbo of sorts until everything gets resolved.
Lawmakers are being criticized for going ahead with changes without proper funding beforehand, seeing it as a failure to invest in children that may inevitably put further costs on low-income families.