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Day care advocates say families will struggle without child care subsidies
Rochester, N.Y. - There are concerns about child care for Monroe County's neediest families.
Proposed budget cuts could dramatically affect many families.
County Executive Maggie Brooks budget proposal would cut day care subsidies by $1.3 million.
According to the countys budget summary, total spending for day care subsidies would drop to $41.8 million, compared to $45.7 million in 2013.
County officials say children currently receiving subsidies will still get them, but fewer families will qualify for assistance next year.
Renee Scholz with the Child Care Council in Rochester helps families in the area find child care.
Scholz said lately her office has been flooded with calls from parents who were denied funding for childcare.
Working firsthand with families who do contact us, it's been a real struggle for many families; they're trying to work, struggling to work and pay for the child care and so being denied is a very difficult issue, Scholz said.
Its an issue C.E.O. of Child Care Council, Barbara-Ann Mattle says has been an ongoing one and isn't getting any better.
We have the largest supply of child care and largest supply of working people of any county in the state of New York outside New York City, we have to do the best, we have to be better and we're not, that's sad, Mattle said.
The Commissioner of Monroe Countys Department of Human Services, Kelly Reed says, this really is a battle being fought in the wrong town, this belongs in Albany.
Reed added that state and federal governments mandate the services local governments must provide but doesnt mandate the money that's needed for services, forcing tough choices to be made.
Working families need much more than subsidy for childcare, Reed said. I have to make an alternative decision and I have to be able to spread those dollars in a way that's reasonable to every need, to every vulnerable decision.
The State says we should fund childcare up to 200% of the poverty level, well were way below that here, Mattle said.
And Reed agrees.
Reed said there hasnt been a change in the way certain funds are allocated since 1999.
Reed also agrees more work needs to be done.
Many child advocate groups have sent Brooks office letters requesting an increase in local funding for day care subsidies.
In response, Brooks sent a letter that read, With mandated spending accounting for 83% of Monroe Countys 2014 budget, it is clear that government simply cant do it alone. Instead, we have developed a collaborative solution to capitalize on our communitys unparalleled generosity and provide additional funding for daycare, all without impacting taxpayers.
Brooks has established the Monroe County DSS Childcare Fund.
Its designed to allow residents and advocates to make a donation where 100% of the proceeds will go to the fund that will help families pay for day care.
This is never only about government, this needs to be a community solution, Reed said.
That fund still has to be approved by county legislators.
A public hearing to discuss day care subsidies is scheduled for Thursday, December 5 at 5:30pm.