FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 15, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Astorino’s Child Care Numbers are Wrong—Again and Again
White Plains, NY – Once again, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino does not have a handle on the numbers.
In a press release today Astorino states that the County’s subsidized child care program had a $3 million deficit at the end of 2012. Of course, this is the same figure he floated all year long in trying to justify his decision to raise the family share for subsidized child care from 20% to 35% of the portion of income that exceeds the federal poverty level, which the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) successfully thwarted through court action.
The only problem is that the County’s Department of Social Services (DSS) budget information shows the child care subsidy program ran at a $1,276,930.35 surplus in 2012.
When asked about this surplus in the subsidized child care program in the 2012 Budget, DSS Commissioner Kevin McGuire said at today’s meeting of the BOL Community Services Committee, chaired by Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), that he wasn’t prepared “to look at budgets or talk about the box score.”
There was no answer either from McGuire about why Astorino continues to say the child care program lost $3 million in 2012. McGuire did say today that DSS is ready to raise the family share for the program to 27% on February 1, as dictated by the 2013 Budget approved by the BOL’s Republican caucus and two Democrats.
“The entire reason for raising the family share for this program, according to the Administration, was to keep it solvent, but last year the funding ran a surplus—even at a twenty percent family share,” said Williams. “With this in mind, I can’t be confident about the financial rationale for increasing these costs for working families this year.”
Williams pointed out that Astorino has been trying to raise the family share for subsidized child care programs since he took office, even though it has now run at a surplus two years in a row. Moreover, in his press release today, the County Executive erroneously claims that “the Democratic majority (of the BOL) did not put enough money in the budget to cover costs” of the program, neglecting to mention that the BOL budgeted exactly what the Astorino Administration asked for.
“To trivialize or minimize the impact of these cost increases to poor working parents signals ignorance of the financial stress under which they live,” Williams said. “A few hundred dollars more out of their pockets represents a good percentage of their weekly take home income, and that will cause many parents to search for less safe alternatives.”
Commissioner McGuire claimed that the increases in the family share for the child care subsidy programs do not force families out of the program, but when asked to explain why DSS has published information showing exactly that, he refused to make further comment to the legislators.
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