September 23, 2009

New York State Received Over $42 Million To Provide Affordable Child Care, But Many Counties Cannot Spend Funds – Gillibrand Takes Action To Release Money For Families

Gillibrand: Thousands of NY Working Families Are In Danger of Losing Child Care Subsidies

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand took action to help families in New York State spend economic recovery dollars to provide affordable child care for families in the area.  The State received $42,075,379 for child care subsidies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which Senator Gillibrand helped pass earlier this year, but local officials have been unable to spend the money because the federal government has yet to provide guidelines for the program. The counties could 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.

 

“In these tough economic times, we must ensure that families in New York State have access to quality, affordable child care,” said Senator Gillibrand. “No parent should have to skip work because they can’t afford quality child care. Funding is already available to help these families and we must act quickly to make sure that they get relief.  I will continue working closely with the Administration to set the proper guidelines that will allow counties in New York State to spend these funds.” 

 

“This allocation is critical to providing child care,” said Gladys Carrión, New York State Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner. We are extremely grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her continuing support on child care issues in New York State, but especially for the funding to provide parents the services they need.”

 

“We appreciate the efforts by U.S. Sen. Gillibrand to obtain the stimulus money that is so crucial to maintaining key child care programs throughout the New York City child care system,” said John B. Mattingly, New York City Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner. These funds, along with funding from the New York City Council, helped restore seats for three and four-year-olds.”

 

 “It is critical that the federal government releases these guidelines so that Nassau County can begin using the almost $2 million in funding for its child care services,” said Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi. "These funds offer assistance to families who rely on these childcare programs, and we need to ensure that those who are struggling in this economy can continue to send their children to a safe and educational environment. I thank Senator Gillibrand for her efforts."

 

 “There are $2.4 million in federal stimulus funds budgeted for child care assistance in our county,” said Suffolk Executive Steve Levy. “We need to ensure that those funds are released to assist financially struggling families who need assistance with safe and affordable child care.”

 

“Low income working families remain at significant risk during these difficult economic times as rising costs of living and declining wages continue to erode disposable income.  The Day Care Subsidy Program offers the single, strongest economic support offered by local departments of social services.  With increased participation, current block grant funds have been exhausted, leaving far too many families at risk of losing their subsidy.   These risks have been exaggerated by the continued delay in allowing Counties access to essential stimulus funds.  In Orange County NY alone, 65 families stand at-risk of losing their day care subsidy as a result of this delay,” said Orange County Social Services Commissioner David Jolly.

 

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.  Approximately $84 million will be allocated to the counties over the next two years. This funding will help the nearly 123,000 New York children enrolled county child care programs.

 

However, New York State is currently unable to distribute the money to its social service districts because it has not yet been given federal guidance on the reporting requirements for these funds.  In a letter 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.  Please click here to see a region-by-region breakdown.

 

 

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,

Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand

 

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