FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 8, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Confusion about Family Share for Child Care Subsidies Irks Democratic Legislators
White Plains, NY – A number of Democratic members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators expressed frustration and disapproval of how the impending increase for the family share of child care subsidies, as dictated by the 2013 Astorino Budget, is being handled. Reports from providers, parents and child care professionals suggest that a great deal of confusion exists as to what the family share actually is, and when the increase will take place.
The Democratic legislators also noted that any change in the family share for the child care subsidy programs administered by the County’s Department of Social Services (DSS) needs to be addressed during a public comment period before it can be sent to the state for proper approvals. This has not happened yet, and Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), chair of the BOL’s Community Services Committee remarked today that she plans on asking DSS Commissioner Kevin McGuire in a committee meeting next week why the public comment period has not yet been scheduled.
In December 2012, families participating in the child care subsidy program were informed by the Astorino Administration that their share for the program would be increased to 35% from 20% on January 1, 2013—adding about $1400 in annual costs for each family.
“Parents were upset by this letter and its onerous cost increase, which caused a number of them to drop out of the program and find less safe alternatives or quit working altogether,” said Williams, adding that parents in the child care program were similarly upset last year when the Astorino Administration sent letters out saying the family share was being increased to 35% in June 2012. This letter, which was mailed in May 2012, could only go after the public comment period had ended and the state had approved the increase.
Last month, the 2013 Astorino budget was passed by the Republican BOL caucus and two rogue Democratic legislators, which increased the parent share to 27%, affecting over 3000 children and their families.
“Working parents who want to use this important program just don’t know how much it’s going to cost them,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the BOL’s Government Operations Committee. “The level of confusion and distrust surrounding the program over the past year is keeping eligible families from participating. Intended or not, this situation is unacceptable. Westchester County must provide good and reliable programs that provide safe and educational environments for our children.”
“For 2012, the Board of Legislators fought successfully to keep the family share for child care subsidies at twenty percent because it was right for Westchester,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah). “By keeping child care affordable for low-income parents, we avoid exponential mandated costs down the road while also helping to ensure the safety of the children involved.”
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