Low-income families struggling to find affordable child care and work at the same time in Chautauqua County will receive the help they need, or more of it, this year.
Increased funding in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state budget allocated $4.2 million in child care subsidies for the 2014 fiscal year for low-income child care assistance through the Child Care Block Grant.
This is good news for county residents living below the federal poverty level, which, according to the Chautauqua County Community Health Assessment, accounts for 14.5 percent of residents.
Furthermore, of all families in the county living under the poverty level, those with children under the age of 5 accounted for 16.9 percent of the population.
Cuomo's budget increased funding statewide by $55 million over the last fiscal year to address the widespread need among low-income working families for affordable child care.
Child care assistance is based on family size, the family's gross annual income and the reason for care.
Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, supported the increased funding, and said it helps offset a portion of child care costs for people under 200 percent of the poverty line working in the private sector.
For example, under federal guidelines, a family of four with an income under $47,700 would be considered below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
"Beginning a job is the toughest to take on with child care expenses," Goodell said. "The funding helps the working poor get into the job market and move forward, progressing with employment."
The funding is coordinated through the Department of Social Services, while Chautauqua Opportunities and Chautauqua Child Care Council work together to promote the availability of child care services in the area.
Districts must provide child care services to families on temporary assistance who are required to participate in a welfare to work activity; families transitioning off of temporary assistance in need of child care in order to work; families eligible for temporary assistance but only want child care in order to work; and low-income working families and teen parents completing high school, if funding is available.
Parents or caretakers receiving funds may choose to have care provided by one of the day care providers with which the local district has contracted for services, or request a child care certificate enabling parents to select from a full range of child care arrangements.
Chautauqua Child Care Council assists in locating providers in the area that meet the specific needs of families, and can be reached at 1-800-4childcare.
To find out if you are eligible for aid through the Department of Social Services, call 753-4421.