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Memorandum of Support

Empire Justice Memo of Support: ACT NOW to Give Families and Child Care Providers Time to Plan for a Change in their Child Care Subsidy


A.3498a (Peoples-Stokes)/S.5743 (Grisanti)

The Empire Justice Center strongly supports this bill, as amended, which would amend §34-a of the Social Services Law to add a new subdivision 9 which incorporates the 60 day notice requirement.

The bill requires that social services districts notify the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) 60 days before the effective date of a planned reduction in eligibility or increase in copayments for child care assistance.  OCFS, in turn, will be required to post notice of the proposed change on its website within 5 days, and within 20 days notify child care providers, the state Child Care Resource and Referral organization (CCR&R), local CCR&R organizations that serve the Social Services District and the relevant unions.  Providers and CCR&Rs are then asked to post the information so that parents are aware of the changes and can assess the impact on their household and act accordingly.

This bill provides a simple and cost-effective way to ensure that parents and providers are made aware of critical financial decisions made by the counties that will impact their household budgets and business income so that they have time to develop a plan  to respond to this loss of financial assistance.

Currently, state regulations require that only 10 days notice be given for a reduction or discontinuance of social services benefits.  This 10 day notice provision generally applies when the recipient has a change in income.  This exceedingly limited timeframe does not make sense for dramatic changes in child care eligibility levels or copayment multipliers that are made across an entire social services district and affect hundreds of families.  Since counties receive their subsidy funding annually, it is more than reasonable to expect that they will be able to project the number of families that can be served 60 days in advance.  To make the process as easy as possible for the counties, the bill is drafted in such a way that notification can take place while the social services district is in the process of getting approval from OCFS for its state plan amendment. 

This bill is particularly critical at this point in time.  Child care is usually the most burdensome household cost for families, more than rent or mortgage payments. [1] As a result, for low income working parents, loss of a subsidy or an increase in copayments without adequate notification can have severe repercussions, not only for families, but for daycare providers and businesses placed at risk of losing employees. 

Without ample notification, many families have no time to plan for such a dramatic financial loss, and have had to make choices that are not in the best interest of their families, such as quitting their jobs or placing their children in child care that is unreliable or unregulated. [2]  Without time to make arrangements for their children, some of these parents have ended up relying on welfare benefits as a direct result of these cuts.  Ten days is simply not sufficient time to make necessary alternative arrangements. 

Due to shortfalls in child care funding, counties are discontinuing otherwise eligible families because they do not have enough funds. To cope with the loss of this important work support, families should receive more notice than 10 days.  This bill will help that happen.

Here is just a sample of some of the counties in which cuts have been made, and in each case the current law only requires that notice of discontinuance be mailed 10 days before the effective date:

  • In January of 2011, Dutchess County lowered eligibility from 200% of poverty to 150% of poverty.
  • In July of 2011, Dutchess County further lowered eligibility to 125% of poverty.
  • In March of 2010, Erie County lowered eligibility from 200% of poverty to 125% of poverty.
  • In October of 2011, Essex County closed the cases of all families that had received subsidies for more than 12 months.
  • Fulton County discontinued 140 families in October of 2011.
  • In December, 2011, Suffolk County notified all families over 185% of the poverty level that they would be losing their subsidies; in July of 2012, Suffolk County notified all families over 100% of the poverty level that they would be losing their subsidies.
  • In October, 2012, Cortland County notified 40 families that they would lose their subsidies because of insufficient funding; 30 more families lost their subsidies for the same reason in December, 2012.
  • In December of 2012, Schenectady County notified all families over 125% of the poverty line that they would be losing their subsidies.


For these reasons, Empire Justice Center strongly supports this legislation and urges immediate passage of A.3498A/S.5743.  Adequate notice would allow families losing this critical economic support to plan for the significant challenges they are sure to face when their subsidy is taken away or when their copayment increases.

End Notes:
 [1] D. Pearce, “The Self-Sufficiency Standard for New York State,” 2010, available online at www.fiscalpolicy.org.  Appendix C documents the cost of living in every county of the state. Consistently, child care costs are significantly higher than housing costs. See also Westchester County Board of Legislators. Martin, Tara L, Director of Communications, “Westchester Lawmakers Vow to Fight Country Executive’s Child Care Cuts,” (April 5, 2010) available at www.weschesterlegislators.com.
 [2] See Spina, Matthew, “Day care issue is a game of numbers: Welfare route called cheaper by county,” Buffalo News (January 31, 2010) available at: http://www.buffalonews.com/2010/01/31/941222/day-care-issue-is-a-game-of-numbers.html.



This memo was prepared by:


Susan C. Antos

Empire Justice Center
119 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY  12210 


(518) 462-6831
(518) 935-2852
santos@empirejustice.org

06/13/13