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Memorandum of Support

Empire Justice Memo of Support: Child Day Care Waiting Lists


A.7028a (Scarborough)/S.2354a (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) commencing October 15, 2012, which will detail the length of time that eligible families remain on the waiting list before they receive child care services, and OCFS in turn will compile the county by county reports into one comprehensive report which will be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature. 

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, as well as the income levels of those families that are denied child care services.  This amendment is critically important for the reasons set forth below.

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

Background

This year New York State will have at least $70 million less to spend for child care than it did in 2009-2010 and $60 million less than it had in 2010-11.   The Governor’s proposed budget for 2012-13 reflects an overall reduction in child care funding from over $974 million in 2009-2010 to $904 million, even with his addition of $93 million in state funds.   This is because the NYSCCBG is primarily funded with federal funds - the federal Child Care Development Fund and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant, and both of those funding streams have been reduced. Additionally, in fiscal years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, the State was able to increase the NYSCCBG using federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“ARRA”) funds.

Under State Law families with incomes up to 200% of poverty are eligible for financial assistance paying for child care.  However, because of the dramatic loss in funding, many counties have lowered eligibility levels to unprecedented lows – in some cases – 135% of poverty or below, and some are processing no new applications from working families. Others are raising parent fees to the highest amount permissible under law.


Currently, no data is available statewide which describes participation in New York’s child care subsidy program by income level.  This is critically important information because it will help policy makers determine whether New York State’s eligibility policies are effective.  As we cope with limited funding, it is critical to see how this is affecting each county of the state.

This is particularly true with respect to establishment of parent fees for child care.  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. [1]  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 nineteen counties across the state, a family of three at 200% of poverty pays a parent share of $125 per week for a child care slot ($6,486 per year, or 17.5% of their income); in five counties the same family would pay $36 per week ($1,853 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.

This is fundamentally unfair.  We are concerned that once a family is required to pay more than 10% of its income for a child care subsidy, 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

1.   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.  As indicated above, 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. 

2.   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 as follows:

(X) EACH DISTRICT SHALL ISSUE A REPORT TO THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND
    FAMILY  SERVICES  BY  OCTOBER  FIFTEENTH, TWO THOUSAND TWELVE, 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,
(C) INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE,
(D)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 BECAUSE OF INSUFFICIENT  FUNDING 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 TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE, AND
(C)    INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-SIX PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED FIFTY PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE,
(D)   INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE PERCENT AND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE,
(E)   INCOMES WERE BETWEEN ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-SIX PERCENT AND TWO  HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL FOR THEIR FAMILY SIZE.


3.   Allow OCFS to expand the scope of the report:  Finally, we suggest that § 410-z(2)(B(VII) 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.

 

End Note:
[1] S. Akhtar and S. Antos, Mending the Patchwork: A Report Examining County-by-County Disparities in Child Care Subsidy Administration in New York State, pp. 5-10, Empire Justice Center (2010), available at http://www.empirejustice.org/assets/pdf/publications/reports/mending-the-patchwork-1.pdf

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

03/19/12