Year-end Data for 2012 Shows County Executive Astorino Needlessly Increased Family Share for Child Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 17, 2013

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-419-5221 (cell)

Year-end data for 2012 shows Astorino Needlessly Increased Family Share for Child Care Subsidies

Child care subsidies break even in 2012

$52 million needed to cover faulty Astorino Administration projections

White Plains, NY – Democratic caucus members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators claimed today that County Executive Rob Astorino needlessly raised the family share for child care subsidies from 20% to 27% for 2013.

County Executive Astorino has requested more than $52 million in budget transfers to close out the 2012 fiscal year, thanks to faulty projections, yet his Administration has not made a request for funds to cover any shortfalls in the County’s child care subsidy program. Meanwhile, preliminary year-end accounts reflect that the County’s Department of Social Services (DSS) required $39.9 million less in its 2012 appropriation and $11.3 million in tax levy than budgeted for operations.

“It is absolutely shameful that the Astorino Administration would continuously repeat its assertion that the child care subsidy program was running over budget when it obviously wasn’t,” said Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), chair of the BOL Community Services Committee. “The Administration based their argument for needing a higher family share on this falsehood with no regard for how it would financially pain the many working parents who utilize this important program. The parents and children in this program, which helps families move up the economic ladder, deserve a sincere apology from the County Executive for this.”

County Budget Director Lawrence Soule delivered a letter to the BOL in May 2012 with a specious argument that the impact of the 20% family share was shown to be leading to the $3.6 million budgetary shortfall after three months of its implementation (as the BOL had compromised with the Administration and increased it from 15% in the Adopted 2012 Budget). Soule also cracked in his letter that “stating the (BOL members) know something” is “…giving them too much credit.”

“The Board of Legislators correctly calculated what the County could afford in terms of the child care subsidy program, so it seems we knew something that the Budget Director didn’t,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham. “For too long, though, the Astorino Administration has used inaccurate budget numbers to justify its onerous family share increases.”

Harckham added: “The County’s modest investment in child care subsidies are critical to keeping low-income working parents contributing to Westchester’s economy, like they want to be, and off of much more expensive mandated social services.”

In March, the BOL Democratic caucus members looked at families in Westchester County child care services and noted that daycare slots for low-income and Title XX increased from 2617 in 2009 to 3025 last year, even though Title XX applications were frozen and misinformation was abundant. Meanwhile, the low income day care parent share has increased by 164% since 2009, yet the cost of the program has increased only 6% over the 2009 funding level. At a Town Hall meeting in Ossining this April, County Executive Astorino claimed that the day care program had run out of money halfway through 2012 when it actually ended up breaking even—at the 20% rate. In 2009, the average March expense for Low Income Day Care was $91; now, in 2013, the average expense will increase to $240.

“Each day goes by with new information showing how badly this Administration treats working families and Westchester County’s valuable service partners, with budget numbers simply made up to fit a narrative,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “The facts point to the increase in the family share for child care subsidies being financially unjustified. It’s time for the County Executive to admit this and return the family share to twenty percent.”

New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer have introduced legislation that will require BOL approval for family share changes for child care subsidies in the future.

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=Bazzo 05/18/13

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