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“Scary Season” Upon Us – Child Care Givers

June 1, 2010

ALBANY, N.Y. - An economy-driven nationwide trend of cuts in subsidies for child care couldn't come at a worse time in New York, where the rising temperature signals the coming of summer vacations. Child care centers, like the ones overseen in the Capital District by Patricia Skinner, are besieged by working parents with low incomes trying to find care for kids out of school.

"This is a scary season. You would not believe how our summer calls have just exploded. And the worse the economy gets, the more calls we get and the more people we need to help. Because they are just . . . They're panicked. "

The child care subsidy cuts vary from county to county, as officials say the state's financial problems have fallen on local governments. Federal support has diminished as well.

Erie County has announced new eligibility rules that will cut off day care subsidies for about 1,500 children, a trend mirrored nationwide. Linda Lisi Juergens of the National Association of Mothers' Centers says that can drive people who want to work to the welfare rolls.

"Losing the subsidy for child care makes it impossible for them to continue to work. It becomes more financially feasible to go on public assistance. And that's the absolute opposite of what we, as a country, have decided we are trying to encourage."

Patricia Skinner says summer can be a bummer for low-income working parents.

"So maybe they've been able to afford an after-school situation during the school year, but in summer, they're working full time and summer time is the time you have to have some kind of arrangement for children. This is often a real tipping point for a family."

On the positive side, Skinner says she sees some people beginning to get new jobs as some new industry starts up in Saratoga County. She adds there's some small business development, as well, as a number of people with kids are opting to stay home and open child care centers of their own.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY