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Obama Stimulus Dollars and State Funds Help NY Children Left Out in Cold

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 By Mike CliffordContact
May 14, 2009

New York, NY — The long wait just ended for the parents of 1,000 children who need help paying for child care but had been left out in the cold for almost a year because of state budget cuts. The New York Department of Social Services recently notified families that had been wait-listed that child care funds are again available.

Brian Lafiff, assistant director of the Child Care Council of Suffolk, explains that Albany lawmakers combined $5 million of state money with $2 million in federal stimulus funds to restore the child-care subsidy. He says that has a lot of parents on Long Island breathing easier.

"There is a better chance for children to be in safe, well-regulated, healthy child-care settings; it means that parents can go to work and not have to worry about where their children are."

Child-care subsidies were cut for many parts of the state, and some of those cuts are still in effect, but in no other county were so many children affected. Suffolk County has seen a major increase in service-sector jobs, and Lafiff says those workers need help with child care because they do not earn enough to pay for it.

One reason the state has been able to come to the rescue, Lafiff adds, is that the Obama administration thought ahead and saw the need for including child care in the federal stimulus plan.

"The stimulus package recognizes that if you are putting people back to work, the children of those people need to go somewhere, and that's why part of the stimulus package had money for child care."

The stimulus money will be available for only two years, so lawmakers still may have to fine-tune the state formula to make sure counties with greater need get ample funding, Lahiff says, but as long as the parents of the wait-listed children still meet eligibility requirements, they should receive help.

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