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NY Budget “Threatens” Child Care Programs for Working Families

March 17, 2009

Albany, NY — As things stand now, funding for child care for working families has yet to be spelled out in the state budget, and that could mean big trouble for New Yorkers who depend on that help. Jan Barbieri, executive director of the Child Care Council of Nassau, says the state's economy depends on working families having access to child care, but right now money for those programs is very uncertain, because child care funding is lumped into the massive Flexible Fund for Family Services.

If the funding situation stays that way, Barbieri says, based on past experience, child care could lose 27 million dollars statewide, or more.

"Our economy is going to continue to suffer, because without adequate child care funding and subsidies to support these low-income working families, they're not able to go out into the work force."

Advocates for the fund say it gives local governments flexibility to allocate the money, rather than having the state decide. However, Barbieri says mandated programs can eat up the lion's share of the money,and she's hoping for a dedicated 356 million dollars in the child care block grant.

Pat Boyle runs Gateway Youth Outreach in Elmont and he also is concerned about mandated services eating up money for his program, which tries to reach New York kids before they get into legal trouble.

"Less and less money in prevention is going to translate into more and more money needed for the mandated services and the criminal justice program services, until finally you have absolutely no prevention programs and you are putting all of your money into mandated services. "

Boyle says it is projected that the cuts could affect 60,000 children in Nassau County alone. Lawmakers face a March 31 deadline to make changes and adopt the state budget.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY