As you know, this has been a difficult budget year for all of us personally and for the state. Despite this challenge, the Department of Early Education and Care remains committed to supporting families' access to quality programs.
Since November 3, 2008, we have had to limit access to early education and care for income eligible families. This has been a difficult process at a time when more families than ever need our support. The Income Eligible account for Fiscal Year 2010 had a deficit of $25 million over the 2009 budget level. This requires us to monitor spending closely and enforce some additional access limitations.
As I have talked many of you, the Parent Advisory Council, the EEC Advisory Council, and the Board of Early Education and Care, we have been encouraged to maintain access to financial assistance for existing families in order to support employment and education. In addition, contracted providers have asked us to ensure whenever possible continuity of care for children aging up to the next appropriate program type, such as infant/toddler to preschool and preschool to school age.
Therefore, in reviewing a series of equally dismal options, we have chosen to close new access for homeless families who are not eligible for services through DTA. In Fiscal Year 2009, we spent $11 million to provide vouchers for such families not involved in an eligible work activity.
I encourage you to refer homeless families to local Head Start programs as they prioritize homeless families requesting early education and care services. We will maintain access for homeless families eligible through DTA shelter programs under TANF assistance.
We also spent $3.4 million in the 2009 income eligible account for teen parents under 20 years of age not eligible through DTA and not in teen parent contracted slots, and must close new voucher and flex pool access to these families at this time.
We are also exploring how to add $8.1 million to the income eligible account through ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funding to support a targeted group of families.
I am committed to reviewing these numbers quarterly to survey opportunities to reopen access to the income eligible account to new families.
In addition, the projected deficiency in the income-eligible account may limit access to child care for children aging up. I realize that families may be receiving a two-week notice; please know that we are committed to resolving this issue by September 1, 2009.
Please see the attached policy bulletin that outlines in greater detail these changes in access to EEC financial assistance. Please also share with your families and community our commitment to continue to ensure their children have access to high quality care and our ongoing efforts to continue to provide more opportunities as resources permit.
Thank you for concern and support. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.