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5,000 families added to state child care plan

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Five thousand more families have been able to receive state-subsidized child care over the past year and the waiting list for the Alabama program has been halved, according to the state Department of Human Resources.

Participation in the agency's child subsidy program has grown from 26,236 families per month in October 2005 to 31,148 families in February. The program provides Alabama's low- and moderate-income families with affordable child care.

Debbie Thomas, director of DHR's child care services division, said the program's waiting list has dropped from 12,544 in October 2005 to 6,635 in February.

"Of course, the number fluctuates from month to month," Thomas said. "But you do have some families waiting on the list for as long as three years. Currently no child has been on the waiting list longer than nine months."

With the help of state and federal funds, DHR spent $80.5 million for children to attend child care during fiscal 2005 and had a budget of $84.9 million for fiscal year 2006. Some families pay a weekly copay for child care according to their income and family size. The program also helps with the cost of before- and after-school care.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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