When it comes to reviving the economy, it’s not enough just to create jobs.
For working parents of all income levels, finding quality and reliable child care can be a nightmare. The options are especially limited for people with tight budgets, who earn modest salaries and struggle to pay the bills.
Government has long helped some low-income working parents pay for their child care. That’s money well spent. Providing quality care for the children enables parents to earn money their families need. For them, as with most people, working isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
For 59 families in Schenectady County, the child care options are about to become far more limited. Faced with significant cuts in state aid and its own strapped finances, the county will tighten its income limits for the subsidy. Beginning next year, only families earning 150 percent of the federal poverty level (about $34,500 a year for a family of four) or less will be eligible for the subsidy. In the past, the subsidy has been available for families making up to $46,100 a year.
That may seem to some like ample income to cover the cost of a baby sitter. But child care, particularly quality child care, can cost $100 a week or more.
Teenage babysitters, relatives and friends are certainly cheaper alternatives and ones many parents routinely turn to. Not every family, however, has the good fortune to have that kind of built-in support system.
The danger here is that, in order to work, some parents will be forced to put their children in unlicensed or substandard daycare facilities or to otherwise make do.
That’s a shame, especially when you consider the hundreds of millions of dollars New York state spends each year to create jobs that allow people to work. A better approach, one Gov. Cuomo would do well to consider in next year’s budget, would be to restore some of this funding.