CHENANGO COUNTY – A recent cut in federal aid is forcing the Chenango County Social Services to suspend child care subsidies to once qualifying families, leaving many working parents without a place to turn for help.
According to the Department of Social Services, federal funding for child care subsidies has dwindled over the last five years and it has put the county in a position to make one of two choices: increase the share of local taxpayers to maintain child care and day care subsidies as they are, or turn away families that exceed the federally mandated threshold for child care assistance.
“To keep it, the county would have had to increase what it pays by about $400,000 each year,” said Chenango County Department of Social Services Commissioner Bette Osborne. “The county decided that because of the local tax cap, they can’t increase the local share.”
Osborne explained that each year, the county receives federal money, which is funneled through New York State, to subsidize child care for qualifying families. Prior to the cuts in federal funding, Chenango County received more funding for child care than was allocated to local residents, allowing DSS to build a reserve account earmarked specifically for child care in the county. However, Osborne said the department has drawn from that reserve to compensate for federal funding cuts over the years, leaving little to allocate to families this year.