Monroe County Executive Adam Bello has unveiled three new initiatives aimed at improving working parents' access to child care subsidies.
"For many working parents, child care can be both an economic necessity and a barrier to advancement and greater opportunity," Bello said Thursday in announcing the effort.
He spoke from a playroom at Kreative Kids Zone, a daycare on North Clinton Avenue, flanked by Democratic county legislators. There, he said a year of child care for an infant in New York can cost as much as a year of state college tuition.
The county is not changing the eligibility rate for subsidies, as advocates and Democrats have called for in recent years. But the new initiatives, Bello said, will relieve some of the financial burden on parents who receive subsidies, and will help working parents find child care.
Bello announced that:
- The county has lowered the parent fee for subsidized child care to 20 percent of household income exceeding federal poverty levels. Last year, former County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo directed that the fee be reduced from 35 percent to 25 percent. The fee is essentially parents' contributions toward their children's day care costs. The Bello administration estimates that change could save some families more than $560 a year.
- The Department of Social Services will establish what the administration is calling a community navigator service that will guide parents through the subsidy application process and help them find child care and address any concerns over the care.
- Parents who have an immediate need for child care assistance -- especially to start or keep a job -- but whose applications for subsidies are backlogged will be deemed eligible for the benefit. They will receive a certificate they can show at the provider of their choosing.
Monroe County currently provides child care subsidies for nearly 7,500 children.
"That invaluable assistance makes sure that working parents, especially those making lower wages, have access to the reliable, quality child care that they need in order to keep their jobs," Bello said.
Styreta Woodie of Webster, a single, working mother pursuing a career in nursing, sends her son and daughter to Kreative Kids Zone. She said the reduction in the parent fee will be helpful to her.
"Any type of savings is helpful, especially when you pay these fees every week," she said.
Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.