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Expanding childcare subsidy programs the focus of roundtable

Maria Fabrizio

As the cost of child care continues to grow, many families are stuck making the choice between earning a living or taking care of their young children.

Families who make 200 percent or less above the federal poverty level are eligible for childcare subsidy programs in New York State. Current rates make families who earn $48,000 a year ineligible for childcare subsidies.

“We want to increase that threshold to 275 percent. That will ultimately help more families that are working so hard to make ends meet to receive that subsidy to ensure that their children get the high quality, certified and licensed childcare right here in our community,” State Senator Tim Kennedy said.

The Buffalo Democrat, along with fellow senator Jeff Klein, held a roundtable discussion with local leaders to discuss plans to expand these subsidy programs. If the threshold is pushed to 275 percent, families who make just under $67,000 per year would be eligible for these programs.

Some strides have been made in Erie County, but Kennedy said there is still more work to be done.

“We were able to get a $500,000 pilot program started that helped 75 families in our community. We’re going to be advocating for another $4 million in the upcoming state budget to make our county whole and to help each family in Erie County,” he said.

More than 10,000 households in Erie County with children under six years old make between 200 and 299 percent of the poverty threshold. Kennedy said child care is a big financial burden on families.

“The average cost of childcare across the State of New York is $10,000 per child. When there are families that are struggling to make ends meet, it’s actually more costly to send a child to daycare than it is to send them for a higher education at a SUNY institution and that’s just not right.”

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