By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
Montgomery County will use more than $800,000 in child care subsidy funding this year to help low-income working families with affordable child care.
According to Nicole Yaggle, social welfare examiner for the county Department of Social Services, the funding is important to working families in the county who need assistance when it comes to day care.
"The day care program is beneficial to our county because it allows people to get back to work. It allows parents and caretakers to go to school to get the education they need to become more self-sufficient," Yaggle said.
Despite an increase in subsidy funding statewide, Montgomery County received $703,648 this year, a $9,000 decrease from 2013.
However, the decrease will not be felt due to $165,000 in roll-over funds from last year.
Last week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo allocated more than $794 million in child care subsidy funding, an increase of $55 million over last fiscal year, to address the widespread need among low-income working families for affordable child care.
Prior to this year's 7.45 percent increase, allocations for the state Child Care Block Grant (CCBG) have remained stable for the past five years, ranging from $736 million to $739 million from 2009 to 2013. The CCBG is administered by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).
In the 2013 fiscal year, approximately 223,000 children in the state received child care subsidies. Low-income child care assistance is based on family size, the family's gross annual income, and the reason for care.
"Working parents should not have to choose between affordable care for their children and maintaining a job," Cuomo said in a press release. "The Child Care Block Grant is a vital resource for households across New York, and I am proud that this year we are dramatically increasing the program's funding, helping to provide stability and quality child care for hard-working families statewide."
The CCBG is the primary funding source used to pay for child care subsidies. Each year, local social services districts are advised of their allocation after passage of the state budget.
In 2013, Montgomery County served 156 children, a spike from 2012 where the county assisted 112 children.
Financial eligibility is determined by a family's gross income, with consideration of family size. For subsidies funded by the CCBG, family income must be at or below 200 percent of the state income standard.
A family of four earning up to $46,000 a year could be eligible for child care assistance provided they meet other criteria in the program, Yaggle said.
Yaggle said state funding is based on utilization which fluctuates each year depending on certain factors, such as the unemployment rate.
"The higher the unemployment rate, the more people are home and the need is not there," she said.
Fulton County received $545,317; additional information was not available from the county Department of Social Services.