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Changes in Child-Care Subsidy Could Save Hundreds for Low-Income Families in Monroe County

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

Monroe County is reducing the amount that some low-income families pay for subsidized child care. File photo

Some low-income families whose child care costs are subsidized will save an average of $800 year after Monroe County announced it will lower the mandated “parent fee” for the service.

The “parent fee” is required by the state and is based on the federal poverty level for family income and family size. The lowest-income working families pay $1 a week. For working families with higher incomes but still below a certain level, the amount they pay will decrease by 10%.

County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo announced the reduction July 8. The change takes effect Aug. 5.

The total cost of the change is about $1.7 million per year, which the county will have to absorb. The amount will be prorated for the rest of the 2019 budget year. Spokesman Jesse Sleezer said the county will not cut services or raise taxes to cover the expense.

The county subsidizes the cost of child care for eligible families, but families choose where the care is provided. On average, the county subsidizes care for about 7,500 children a year. The lower parent fee will affect about 2,200 families that support 4,600 children.

Sleezer said the reduction in parent fee was not driven by the upcoming election. Dinolfo is running for re-election against County Clerk Adam Bello.

Sleezer said that under Dinolfo, the county has committed to subsidizing child care for low-income families. He said the county invests nearly $48 million a year in the program, which he said is more than what Albany, Erie and Onondaga counties spend combined.

“We’ve often talked that the child care program isn’t just a social service program,” Sleezer said. “Children who benefit from reliable, quality child care go on to do better in school … and have more long-term success. Beyond that, it’s really a workforce development program. When kids are in reliable, quality child care, their parents are confident they can get a job and stay in the job and work their way up the ladder.”

If families have questions about the subsidy or child care in general, call (585) 753-6960 or go to www2.monroecounty.gov/hs-daycare.php.