Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino argues that his administration needs to increase the family share in the county’s subsidized child-care program because the program was over budget.
The new rates take effect on June 1 and have whipped up a firestorm between the Democratic-controlled Board of Legislators, and the Republican county administration. Legislators who opposed the increased costs today pointed out that the state’s allocation to Westchester for child-care was $2.4 million higher than estimated in the county budget.
“Instead of supporting a program that helps working mothers, County Executive Astorino is making things harder for them – and without any real financial justification,” said Legislator Alfreda Williams, D-Greenburgh. “This continuing assault on women and families has to stop.”
According to Thomas Staudter, spokesman for the board’s Democratic majority, state child-care funding in the 2012 budget was $22.7 million. On Friday, the state released its report on its Child Care Block Grant program. Westchester’s allotment was $25.1 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
But Ned McCormack, Astorino’s communications director, said the state numbers don’t reflect the actual experience during the county’s 2012 fiscal year, which began on Jan. 1. The state fiscal year begins April 1.
“It’s like comparing apples and oranges,” said McCormack. “The number don’t match up. They are missing an entire quarter.”
The parent share of subsidized care will go from 20 percent of a family’s income over the poverty line, to 35 percent of income. Most families in the program earn less than 200 percent of the poverty line – $37,600 for a family of three. In 2011l, families paid 15 percent of their income.
According to Staudter, overall child care costs are projected to be $3 million higher than projected in the budget. But the $2.4 million in additional funding makes up for most of the increase, he said.
“The Astorino administration has provided phony numbers, again and again, to bolster ideological decisions that are simply wrong for Westchester,” said Legislator Judy Myers, D-Mamaroneck, who chairs the legislature’s Budget and Appropriations Committee. “Maybe it’s time for County Executive Astorino to spend some time talking with the peole who will be affected by the child-care increases and hear from them first-hand what kind of financial hardships his actions will soon be causing them.”