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Child Care Programs in 41 Counties Cutting Back Today

July 7, 2008

New York City — The state has re-allocated $51 million in federal block grant money. As a result, child care agencies in 41 counties across the state cut back services today, and some are now closed to new clients. Suffolk County, where the state cut $2.2 million, is among the hardest hit.

Janet Walerstein with the Child Care Council of Suffolk says the impact is being felt right now because, as of today, the county is no longer accepting any new low-income mothers or families who need child care. She fears the decision means that children will end up in unregulated care.

"What is going to happen to these kids? They are going to be in care somewhere; parents are not going to give up their jobs."

The Office of Family Services says they moved money from "counties that did not need it" to other counties that did, in order to keep services running statewide at a time of increasing costs. Walerstein doesn't think the decision makes sense, because counties that were fiscally smart and planned ahead are now losing money for critical child care services.

Suffolk is not alone, however. Plenty of programs upstate are taking big hits, with Erie loosing $2.7 million, Westchester $2.1 million and Monroe $1.7 million.

Dennis Nowak with the Suffolk County Department of Social Service says those cuts will start being felt today.

"It will impact those who will be seeking to apply for day-care subsidies. So again, we're not closing out the ones currently receiving the child care subsidies, but anybody new coming to the doors as of Monday, July 7, we won't be able to take an application."

The Suffolk legislative delegation protested the cuts in a letter to the governor and other decisionmakers in Albany. The $2 million-plus in block grant money that was taken back from Suffolk amounts to 7 percent of the county's child- care budget.

Michael Clifford/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NY