Nancy Major is looking for answers.
The director of I Can Too Learning Center has been asking the Department of Health and Senior Services about reimbursement for taking care of foster children for three years.
She’s being paid around $9 a day per foster child for that care, while daycares in other counties are paid more, as much as $37 per day, she says. No one at MDHSS can tell her why, she said. Her actual cost per child averages around $27 a day, she estimates.
“I think they’re not making it realistic to the point that daycares can afford to watch these kids, because minimum wage is going up,” she said. “The last time I said I can’t afford to watch foster kids, they told me to charge my private-pay parents more to cover the cost of foster kids.”
Major says she’s not allowed to accept money from foster parents, only state reimbursement.
At one time, I Can Too cared for about 37 foster children daily. Through attrition, Major has reduced that number to 10 over the last six months. Last summer, she made the decision not to replace foster children when they transferred out, instead filling those spots with private-pay children or leaving the spots empty.
“Ten is all I can afford to do,” she said.
I Can Too is licensed by MDHSS for 150 children per day. On average, attendance is anywhere from 50 to 80 per day.
“For a while when we had all these fosters enrolled, we stayed between 100 and 125 every day,” she said.
She’s also unhappy that almost all the foster children from Dent County are being sent to other counties, where the daycares are paid $37 a day. As the only state-licensed daycare in the county, I Can Too is the only local option.
“It’s costing the state to ship them out, plus they have to pay them $37 a day anyway,” Major said.
Major was recently informed that MDHSS has proposed putting her facility on probation. No probation has been imposed as yet. She believes it’s related to her battle with the state over reimbursement.
“They’re trying to say the two things are not related at all,” she said.
A state spokesman who offered to answer a reporter’s questions did not respond to an email by press time on Monday.
Major said she plans to fight the proposed probation.
“I’ve sent in an appeal,” she said. “Now they’ve decided they have to come and re-measure my building, as if the size of my building has changed from the time they licensed it until now.”
Her three-year battle over foster child care reimbursement goes on.
“I’m frustrated because there’s no voice for us and no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t get someone to answer my questions,” she said.