ANNAPOLIS -- Most of a $5.3 million federal grant received by the state in April to subsidize day-care costs for low-income families became available to eligible Marylanders at the beginning of this month, according to Department of Human Resources officials.
The officials said they had been forced to delay spending the money until the start of Maryland's 1992 fiscal year, July 1, because of a federal stipulation that it be used to supplement, not supplant, state funds not available before then.
Maryland's budget problems had dried up funds for the program, so the department had to wait for the new fiscal year's infusion of state money before the federal money could be spent.
Most of the $5.3 million grant is to help low-income families pay for child care so that parents or guardians can remain employed.
The federal contribution is to be used primarily for about 3,500 children awaiting financial assistance, said Regina M. Bernard, assistant director for program development for the state's Child Care Administration. The grant helps low-income families pay for child care so that parents or guardians can remain employed and thus stay off the state's more costly welfare rolls.
State officials also hope to use more than $1 million of the grant to increase the size of day-care subsidies paid to eligible parents.
Eligibility for the program varies with family size. A family of four, for example, cannot earn more than $21,915. Ms. Bernard said the department hopes to use another $500,000 to raise the maximum level to $31,503.
The amount of a subsidy is based on a variety of factors, including family size, income, a child's age, the type of care and whether a handicap exists.
Marylanders who are eligible for child-care subsidies but were placed on the waiting list should contact their local Department of Social Services office if they still need financial help, Ms. Bernard said. She said parents or guardians of as many as half of the children on the list may have already made other child-care arrangements.
Subsidies for infant care range from $6.80 a day to $15.30 a day, she said.