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More families in need than money for program

5:55 PM, Jan 15, 2010   |    comments
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Three years ago Jefferson County was able to serve around 700 families with CCAP funds. By the end of 2009, the number of families seeking assistance through the program had more than doubled. Funding for the program had not.

The funding for CCAP comes from three sources. The federal government provides two thirds of the funding while the State of Colorado chips in for 20 percent.

The remaining money is funded by local government.

CCAP is administered by county agencies.

When the economic downturn occurred last year, the demand for CCAP funds skyrocketed.

"It was a rapid climb of families accessing the CCAP and not enough funding to accommodate those families," Alvin Tafoya, program manager for CCAP in Jefferson County, said.

As a result of the dramatic increase in demand for the program, the county made the difficult decision to eliminate families in training for work from the program. Families that are working were retained out of fear that cutting their funds might send some of them to unemployment lines.

"It's very tough. We realize that these programs are designed for families, in particular working families and families trying to obtain education and ultimately we realize these cuts will impact those families," Tafoya said.

Jennifer Nelson knows what he is talking about. The single mother was counting on CCAP assistance to pay for daycare for her two young children so she could get a college degree from Metro State College. The degree would allow Nelson to provide for her family financially.

Nelson had already enrolled in classes when she got word CCAP funds would not be available to her.

"It was heartbreaking because I didn't know what I was going to do," Nelson said.

Roughly 130 families in Jefferson County have been impacted by the cut to the program.

The problem is not unique to Jefferson County. Last year the case load statewide for families seeking assistance increased by 39 percent. Funding did not.

"To me it's just an excuse," Nelson said. "I'm sure there are a lot of people that do need the day care assistance, so they need to find more funding for it somewhere."

In the interim, Nelson has changed her class schedule at Metro State and will take night classes. Her two high school-aged sons have agreed to babysit while mom is at school.

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