Several members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL), including BOL Vice Chair Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon), Legislator and Majority Whip MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) and Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), chair of the BOL Community Services Committee, plan to join concerned residents at the Unity & The Community 2012 rally and March to End Youth Violence on Saturday, June 23 in Mount Vernon.
The legislators plan to continue their call on Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino to push back his proposed increase in the family share for child care subsidies.
The March to End Youth Violence, which will begin at Mount Vernon City Hall this Saturday at 10 AM with the participation of many prominent community leaders and members of the clergy, is being sponsored by Unity Baptist Tabernacle.
“When you make child care unaffordable to families trying to raise themselves out of poverty, then you’re putting children at risk,” said BOL Vice Chair Williams. “We have to stand committed to creating a safe environment for our youth—in their daycare, neighborhood and schools—and we have to work harder to make our communities stronger for future generations.”
In early February 2012, the Astorino Administration claimed the County’s child care subsidy programs “will run out of money” before the end of the year, and decided to take “emergency steps” that include capping the number of child care slots available through the Title XX program at 206 (the number of slots currently funded) and increase the family contribution to the daycare costs from 20 % to 35% of the portion of income that exceeds the federal poverty level.
When County Executive Astorino vetoed the BOL’s add of $3.5 million in December 2011 to maintain the family share at 20%, he wrote that the amount “was insufficient by at least $2.5 million to accomplish that purpose”—any amazing declaration considering the Budget Director had not yet completed any final numbers factoring in the increase to 20%. Astorino also called the BOL add of $800,000 for Title XX spending “counterproductive and unnecessary.”
“These child care subsidy programs are designed for mostly working mothers who are near the poverty level to stay in the workforce and contribute to the local economy—while paying their bills and providing for their families,” continued Williams. “Also, the County’s Department of Social Services has projected a ten million-plus dollar surplus for 2011 and there is a surplus projected again for this year, so there is no reason to increase a family share for child care in the middle of the year.”
The increased family share for child care costs is $1,400 for wage earners making $30,000 a year.
Reverend Edward Mulraine, pastor of Unity Baptist Tabernacle, said: “The support for child care and early childhood education nurtures children into productive youth who do not engage in violence. It is the abandonment of these programs that adds to the severity of social problems.”
Acting Supreme Court Justice Robert A. Neary granted the Democratic leadership team of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) a temporary restraining order against County Executive Astorino and Commissioner Kevin McGuire of the County’s Department of Social Services (DSS) on June 1, preventing the Administration’s increase of the family share for low-income child care subsidies.
Judge Neary asked for petitioners and respondents in the case to return to court on July 5 for a hearing on a preliminary injunction that will determine whether the increase will be allowed to take effect.