After being stuck in neutral for years, the reimbursement rate for children served under the Care 4 Kids [Connecticut’s child care subsidy] program is going up.

In Southwestern Connecticut, the reimbursement rate for infant-toddler care will increase from $221 to $300 a week and the preschool rate will increase from $175 to $210 a week. It is the first increase since 2014.

The increases were announced Wednesday by the Office of Early Childhood. Care 4 Kids is a state and federally funded program for lower-income working families to help pay for child care. The increase, in part, is in response to $14 million in new federal Child Care Development Fund dollars, and an increased investment by the state.

The new rates take effect on Sept. The subsidy acts like a voucher. Working parents who qualify apply and get a voucher that they then can use toward qualifying child care slots. Parents are responsible for paying for the balance, so the new vouchers make it more likely they can afford the slot.

Connecticut currently has one of the lowest child care subsidy rates in the country and a 50,000-seat shortage of infant/toddler care, according to state officials. The new rates make it more likely parents can find child care options and are expected to help child care centers improve the quality of care.

“This is critical to maintain federal funding and is long overdue,” said Beth Bye, the state’s Commissioner of Early Childhood. “It will help stabilize an already fragile child care system and make some gains for better wages for child care workers.”

“The Care 4 Kids program simultaneously supports working families, ensures that the most vulnerable children are cared for and nurtured during the most critical period of their development, while bolstering child care businesses helmed primarily by women of color,” said Georgia Goldburn, director of Hope for New Haven. “This increase is a much-needed boost for the program.”

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