Some undocumented parents in Utah now eligible for help with childcare
SALT LAKE CITY — Immigration rights activist call it a small victory. Some undocumented parents can now get help paying for childcare through a federal subsidy program.
In order to qualify for financial help, so called “mix status families” had to declare they were being paid wages legally, but that is no longer required as of April 1.
For years, Utah children who are U.S. Citizens or hold a green card have been denied federal financial help based on the mixed immigration status of their parents.
“Before we required, employment that you must obtain wages legally. That phrase of the definition was taken out,” said Rebecca Banner, director of childcare for Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Banner says updating the definition was important after discussing the issue with the group Comunidades Unidas.
“It allowed more families to be eligible for the childcare program that maybe had a citizen child but the parents with their immigration status, they weren’t eligible to work.”
In a statement to KSL, Brianna Puga with Comunidades Unidas said: “We thought it was inhumane and huge injustice for children to be withheld from this resource. We get many calls to our offices with undocumented parents struggling to find childcare assistance. These are children that we’re speaking about, no child should be withheld from childcare support.”
Banner says she understands the need for more parents to have access to quality childcare, especially with many working throughout the pandemic.
“At the start of the pandemic, businesses were closing childcare needs changed then. And then, throughout the pandemic, as businesses were opening up again and employees went back to work, that also changed the childcare need again.”
Puga says their fight isn’t over until all children have access to apply for childcare support, but removing this one barrier is a step in the right direction.
“Undocumented parents are now able to have a better peace of mind of where/who can properly take care of their children while they work and more. Yes, we’ve seen that parents/families are already starting to apply, which is great, but families/parents are still hesitant to apply because of fear of public charge and other reasons, but this is where DWFS and organizations like Comunidades Unidas come in to help educate and empower our community.”
To apply for the childcare subsidy program, click here.
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