Nov 182002
 
Authors: Adrienne Hoenig

Crying children and shushing parents could be heard during the 2003 Larimer County Budget Hearing.

Those present at the hearing discussed the priorities and guidelines for Larimer County’s proposed 2003 budget. This includes cuts to the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, which were hotly debated at Monday night’s hearing.

CCCAP helps underprivileged families pay for childcare. Its use has risen dramatically in the last year with the number of students relying on the service climbing 49 percent.

Federal and state budget cuts have forced Larimer County officials to eliminate a large portion of families receiving assistance from CCCAP. All student parents were removed from the bill, as well as any parents that earn a combined total of more than $10.11 hourly pay.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere to go without the funding,” said Ginny Riley, with the Department of Human Services.

County Commissioner Kathay Rennels said that Larimer County tries to “continue existing services whenever possible.” She explained that the county has done “a better job than it had to” providing family assistance in the past. The expectations citizens now have of the county government are very difficult to meet, she said.

Many single mothers attended the hearing to share the hardships created for them by CCCAP’s new cuts.

Rachel Hassell, 34, is in the middle of her first semester as an economics major at CSU. She has two daughters, aged 5 and 1. Hassell said CCCAP is one of the only things that made it possible for her to attend CSU.

“I’m not even done with my first semester and they’re taking away my opportunity,” she said.

Most parents present did not understand why students in particular were cut from the budget.

“It seems counter-productive to me,” Hassell said.

Cindy Torres is a student at College America in Fort Collins. She is equally confused about the decision to cut students from the program.

“I’m trying my best to go to school so I can get a good job so I can take care of my kids,” she said. “Can’t they take something else out?”

Torres has three young children in childcare. She said there is no way she can keep them there without help from CCCAP.

“Now that that’s cut, there’s nothing,” Torres said. “I can’t do it.”

Rennels replied that there are no easy cuts to make to this kind of program. Removing anyone from the CCCAP budget would create a struggle, she said.

“We’re down to the hard cuts now,” Rennels said.

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