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Memorandum of Support

Memorandum in Support: Require Local Districts to Maintain Waiting Lists for Child Care Assistance

A.7028 (Scarborough)/S.2354 (Montgomery)


This bill would amend Social Services Law §410-z to require local social services districts to maintain waiting lists of all families who are eligible for child care assistance, and to provide an annual report to the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), detailing the length of time that eligible families remain on the waiting list before they receive child care services.

The amendment to §410-z will also require each social services district to provide an annual report by month, which details by poverty percentages, the income levels of all families that apply for and receive child care subsidies. This amendment is critically important for the reasons set forth more below.

The Empire Justice Center strongly supports this bill and has suggestions for three technical amendments that would strengthen it.

Background

Currently, no data is available statewide which shows describes participation in New York’s child care subsidy program by income level. This is critically important information because it will help policy makers to determine whether New York State’s eligibility policies are effective. This is particularly true with respect to establishment of parent fees for child care. Although more than 85% of the over $900 million that is spent on child care each year in this state is federally driven (the balance split between state and local funding), the cost of a child care subsidy and many eligibility rules are determined at a local level.

Although the child care subsidy program in New York is primarily a federally funded program, families are treated differently depending upon the social services district in which they reside. For example, each district is allowed to choose the percentage of household income that families pay as a parent fee (also known as co-payment). This means that the cost of child care for similarly situated families depends upon where they live. In twenty counties across the state, a family of three at 200% of poverty pays a parent share of $116 per week for a child care slot ($6010 per year, or 17.5% of their income); in four counties the same family would pay $33 per week ($1717 per year, or 5% of their income). The remaining social services districts charge parent fees at many different points in-between, as indicated by the attached chart.1

This is fundamentally unfair. Once a family is required to pay more than 10% of its income for a child care subsidy, our belief is that the family is likely to leave the regulated system and utilize care that may not be as safe as regulated care. However, our belief is based on anecdote. This bill will require the accumulation of the critical data that will show what effect high co-payments have on participation in the subsidy program.

Technical amendments

Define “eligible families”: This bill requires that local social services districts keep waiting lists of “eligible” families. Under Social Services Law §410-w, families with incomes under 200% of poverty are financially eligible for child care. Some social services districts have lowered their eligibility levels below 200% of poverty because of limited funds. This bill should clarify that waiting lists must include otherwise eligible families at or below 200% of the poverty level in social services districts where families have lowered eligibility because of limited funds. This could be accomplished by the addition of a new section 2(C) of the bill, which would state:

For purposes of this subdivision, “eligible family” shall include all families up to 200% of poverty who are otherwise eligible, but who may have been denied assistance because the social services district does not have enough funds to serve all eligible families and has opted to apply its funds to lower income families as a priority population .

Require more detail about income level: In order to more accurately assess the effect of high co-payments, we also suggest that the report proposed in § 410-z(3)(B)(III) require that local social services districts provide information by quartile of income, and include any information where available, about any families who are otherwise eligible but who decline child care assistance because of the size of the parent share. We also suggest that the number of individuals on public assistance receiving child care subsidies be provided. These proposed amendments are attached.

Allow OCFS to expand the scope of the report: Finally, we suggest that§ 410-z(2)(B) be amended to allow OCFS to require additional information in the annual report. That line would therefore read:

Other information as the district OR OCFS deem appropriate.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO REQUIRE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT INCOME LEVEL

(B) EACH DISTRICT SHALL ISSUE A REPORT TO THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND
FAMILY SERVICES BY OCTOBER FIFTEENTH, TWO THOUSAND TEN, AND ANNUALLY
THEREAFTER, DETAILING MONTH-TO-MONTH INFORMATION COLLECTED PURSUANT TO
THIS SUBDIVISION FOR THE PRECEDING PERIOD OF OCTOBER FIRST THROUGH
SEPTEMBER THIRTIETH, AND SHALL INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

(I) THE NUMBER OF ALL FAMILIES WHO APPLIED FOR AND RECEIVED CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PURSUANT TO THIS TITLE WHOSE:


A) INCOMES WERE UNDER ONE HUNDRED ONE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE, AND WERE IN RECEIPT OF CASH PUBLIC ASSISTANCE
B) INCOMES WERE UNDER ONE HUNDRED ONE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE, AND WERE NOT IN RECEIPT OF CASH PUBLIC ASSISTANCE
C)INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED ONE PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE, AND
(D) INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-SIX PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED FIFTY PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE,
(E) INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE,
(F) INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-SIX PERCENT AND TWO HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE.

(I) THE NUMBER OF ALL FAMILIES WHO APPLIED FOR CHILD CARE
ASSISTANCE PURSUANT TO THIS TITLE AND WHO WERE FOUND TO BE ELIGIBLE, BUT WHO DECLINED SUCH ASSISTANCE, WHERE THE PARENT INDICATED THAT THE SIZE OF THE PARENT SHARE WAS NOT AFFORDABLE, LISTED BY THE FOLLOWING INCOME LEVELS:


A)  INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED ONE PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE, AND
B) INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-SIX PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED FIFTY PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE,
CE) INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE,
DF) INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-SIX PERCENT AND TWO HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE.

(II) THE NUMBER OF ALL FAMILIES WHO APPLIED FOR AND WERE DENIED CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PURSUANT TO THIS TITLE WHOSE:


(A) INCOMES WERE UNDER ONE HUNDRED ONE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE,
(B) INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED ONE PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED FIFTY PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE, AND
(C) INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE PERCENT AND TWO HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE.

 

Footnotes

 

1 See also S. Akhtar and S. Antos, Expanding the Patchwork: Inequity in Child Care Subsidy Eligibility and Administration is Greater Now than in 2002, Legal Services Journal, December, 2006. Available on line at: /issue-areas/child-care/co-payments/expanding-the-patchwork.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

02/02/11