no images were foundJuly 23, 2012 Advocates protest child-care cuts By Lori Kersey Charleston Gazette CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Chey Straughter and her children are not among the hundreds of families in the state who are about to lose child-care assistance. But she may still feel the effects of the cuts. Many of the parents who use the daycare center where she takes her children will lose their childcare assistance, she said. Straughter fears that without the assistance, the families will stop using the daycare, which will force it to close. "Without the children, you don't have a working facility," she said. A divorced mother of three who's working her way through college, Straughter said she can afford the cost of daycare, but she doesn't think she'll be able to get that affordability at another facility. Straughter was one of a few people who protested West Virginia's plan to cut child-care subsidies to about 800 families with 1,400 children. "This ... is not only going to affect low-income working families but small business child-care providers and some social workers," she said. "It becomes a snowball effect, and it will affect the economy. If we're able to work, we need safe daycares so parents don't have to worry about them -- about our children." A small number of protesters held signs opposing the cuts June 23 near the West Virginia Capitol on Kanawha Boulevard. At about 12:30 p.m., which was 30 minutes into the planned rally, four people held signs on the street. The rally was hosted by Direct Action Welfare Group, a grassroots organization made up of welfare recipients and low-wage workers, according to the group's website. Child-care providers are planning a separate rally against the child-care cuts for Wednesday. Evelyn Dortch, a member of WV DAWG, said she hopes Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin reverses the state's decision to cut child-care assistance. "[I'm hoping] the governor realizes you can't have more jobs with less child care," Dortch said. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, along with Tomblin's office, announced last month that the state would change the eligibility guidelines for child-care assistance. Previously, families could make up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level and still receive assistance. Beginning in January, however, the cutoff for assistance will fall to families who earn 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Next month, families that are eligible to receive assistance will pay more than twice what they had been paying in co-payments, which will rise from 5 to 12 percent. The co-payment increases are effective Aug. 1. Between the increase to co-payments and the cuts, the state expects to save about $8 million a year. Dortch wondered why the state couldn't find the $8 million somewhere else. The state has $851 million in its Rainy Day Fund, an $81 million Lottery surplus and an $87 million surplus in the general revenue. "They could find it," she said. Dortch said she's heard from daycare officials who are expecting to lose more than half their children because of the cuts. Some parents have told her that they'll have to quit their jobs instead of paying child care. Advocates are also planning to present a petition to the governor and legislators, she said.