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State senators to propose nearly $200 million in childcare subsidies

SUFFERN – In a bid to alleviate the high cost of being a parent in New York, state senators met Wednesday with childcare advocates, union officials and other interested parties to propose a combined total of $182 million in restorations and expansions of childcare programs for the next state budget.

The new proposal put forward by State Sens. David Carlucci (D-38), Diane Savino (D-23) and Jeffrey Klein (D-34), allocates $100 million in funds for the restoration of the state’s Facilitated Enrollment Program, which relaxes eligibility requirements and manages costs for parents.

Klein portrayed the issue as a matter of economic importance and a way to strengthen child development while boosting participation in the workforce for parents who might not be able to afford childcare while maintaining employment.

“I think we need to sort of wrap our arms around the fact that child care is economic development, because if we are going to have working people go into the workforce and earn a living and raise their family, we need to make child care more affordable,” Klein said.

The proposal also allocates $82 million to restore cuts to general child care subsidies in the New York State Child Care Block Grant, allowing for greater enrollment.

Facilitated enrollment was given particular attention due to its expansion of eligibility as well as financing. If included in the budget, the $100 million would be accessible to families up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level of $94,200 and cap family contributions at 10 percent of household income.

The Child Care Block Grant, which will be pushed when Governor Cuomo makes his recommendations for the next budget, has been the target of heavy cuts in recent years, dropping close to $100 million since the 2010-2011 budget. The block grant currently receives $917 million in funding, while Facilitated Enrollment receives $7.3 million.

Making matters worse is the high cost of childcare in the state. New York has some of the highest childcare rates in the United States, with an average of 27 percent of monthly self-sufficiency wages required for child care in Westchester County.

“When we have some of the highest childcare costs in the nation, that’s a recipe for disaster,” said Carlucci, who brought along his five-and-a-half month old son Jack for the event.

The Independent Democratic Caucus, which sponsored a report on the effects of funding childcare, argued the impact would be significant. The caucus anticipates about 13,000 more children can be served by the restoration of general subsidies and about 15,327 can be served by the expansion of facilitated enrollment.