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10,000 NY Kids in Danger of Losing Child Care

February 11, 2009

Albany, NY — Hundreds of parents and children's advocates are headed to Albany today to call attention to proposed federal funding and state budget cuts that could mean a loss of child care for 10,000 New York kids. They give Governor David Paterson credit for preserving funding for pre-kindergarten in New York, but say they're troubled by reductions in child care for low-income families and cuts to home visitation programs which prevent child abuse.

Meredith Wiley with the statewide coalition Fight Crime Invest in Kids says the need is urgent.

"We can't wait with their development to find out whether the economy gets better or not; the kids keep growing. If we wait three, or four, or five years, we're going to have a whole lot of children who are arriving at school but who unfortunately are not really ready to be there."

Lawmakers are turning their attention to the governor's cuts and also watching negotiations in Congress to see if the stimulus package brings resources to New York. As the cuts stand now, Wiley says, proven home visiting programs like Healthy Families and Nurse Family Partnership would be eliminated or severely reduced.

Over the past six years, New York cut child care subsidies to more than 40,000 children, according to Janet Walerstein at the Child Care Council of Suffolk. Walerstein says it would be dangerous for another 10,000 kids to lose child care in New York.

"You could have 25 kids in the basement with the lady down the street, kids locked in cars, or older children kept home to care for younger children. All of that is the potential when parents cannot get the child care they need, or the money to be able to afford child care."

Walerstein says one possible solution that involves no additional funding would be transferring 356 million dollars from the state's flexible fund and applying that money to the child care development block grant.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY