As child care centers and parents of children in Westchester County’s subsidized day care program await the outcome of a lawsuit over an increase in the parent share of child care costs, the Child Care Council of Westchester sought to bring attention to the impact of the dispute today in New Rochelle.
At the New Rochelle Day Nursery, a 117-year-old early childhood program on Clinton Avenue, Executive Director Sabrina Delgado said parents notified of the proposed increase in the parent share this spring began coming in tears to see her, worried about whether they would have to quit their job or take a second job to make ends meet.
Maria Canales, a teacher at the school and the mother of a 4-year-old who has been at the school since she was 20 months old, said it’s already hard as a single parent to afford rent and food.
“If it goes higher it’s going to be very hard for me,” she said. Canales now pays $90 a week and if the increase goes through it will jump to at least $130 a week.
Canales said she doesn’t want to take her daughter out of the school and might do extra babysitting to try to bring in more income.
“The best place for her to stay and be safe is in a daycare,” she said.
The county had planned to increase the copay for families in the subsidized child care programs from 20 percent of income above the poverty line to 35 percent. But a group of Democratic legislators sued to stop the increase and a judge temporarily stopped it while the case goes forward.The county has filed a motion to dismiss that could be decided in July.
The administrators of the Department of Social Services said the Legislature didn’t budget enough money for the program. Rather than close enrollment or allow the programs to run out of money they must raise the parent share, they said. Legislators say there is other money available that can be transferred to the day care line if necessary.
The largest program, the low income day care program, serves families up to 200 percent of the poverty line or $38,180 for a family of three.
Delgado said the increase in the parent share is also a threat to the school because if the number of children drop too far, she will have to lay off teachers and close classrooms. The school, which is licensed for 118 kids but has about 80 due to the bad economy, has already cut teacher pay 10 percent and increased contribuitons to health care.
“We’re at the maximum we can charge,” said Jeani Miller, the president of the board.