September 25, 2009

Gillibrand Helps Release Nearly $100 Million In Stimulus Funds For Federal Child Care Assistance In New York

Federal Assistance Will Help Over 120,000 Children Enrolled in Child Care Programs Across the State

Washington, D.C. - At the urging of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today provided spending and reporting guidelines for counties that received child care funds in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Until today, local officials have been unable to spend these funds because the federal government had not yet provided guidelines for the program. Counties can spend these federal dollars to meet a broad range of needs for their child care centers, including restoring kindergarten seats, saving child care programs from getting cut, and paying for salaries.

"This is great news for counties across New York that have been waiting for the federal guidelines needed to put these funds to use for families that rely on these centers for quality, affordable child care," Senator Gillibrand said. "I would like to thank Secretary Sebelius for responding so quickly to my request and for understanding that in these tough economic times we need to speed the process of providing federal assistance for these important services."

New York State's Office of Children & Family Services received $96.8 million in May to help provide New York families with affordable child care over the next two years through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which Senator Gillibrand helped pass earlier this year. Approximately $84 million will be allocated to counties across New York over the next two years -- helping approximately 123,000 New York children enrolled in county child care programs.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Senator Gillibrand asked that the agency immediately take steps to issue federal guidelines to New York State for distribution of the funds.

Full text of the letter is below:

September 22, 2009

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius

United States Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC  20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

I write to express my urgent concern regarding New York State's inability to release the $96.7 million in federal child care stimulus funds that it has received under the under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA").  New York State's Office of Children and Family Services received these funds in early May of this year, but has been unable to distribute them to its social service districts because it has been unable to obtain federal guidance on the allowable uses and reporting requirements for these funds pursuant to Section 1512 of the ARRA.

Thousands of working families in communities throughout New York State have not been able to access the assistance they desperately need in order to pay for childcare.  Without access to quality childcare, parents risk missing work and losing jobs they need to support their families.

I was a strong supporter of the economic recovery plan, and I continue to support the tremendous work you and President Obama are doing to provide emergency assistance to middle income and low income Americans in need during this economic crisis.  I know you agree that we must make sure that families receive assistance as soon as possible.

I urge you to act quickly to provide guidance to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, and similar agencies throughout the nation, so that working families no longer risk losing access to quality childcare.

Very truly yours,

Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator