Keep quality child care affordable

Tuesday, December 25, 2012
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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.

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December 27, 2012
8:22 a.m.
birmy says...

Parents receive a $5,000 dependent care credit for child care. What is interesting is no matter how many kids you have you only get a $5,000 credit. I think they call it a credit. They take the money out pre-tax from your paycheck and then you submit your expenses for daycare and get the $5,000 back. So you basically save on the taxes up to $5,000. At a 30% tax rate a parent would save $1,500.

But you only get a $5,000 credit no matter how many kids you have? Daycare can be $10,000 per kid at least (seriously). This does not seem right to me. I know someone has to pay for it but it can be a hardship on parents to fund $10,000 per kid daycare. Not everyone has a grandparent that is not working and is healthy enough and lives within a close enough proximity to care for their children.

I wrote to my legislators many years ago, including Former representative Olympia Snowe from Maine because she sponsored a bill to change the law favoring parents and everyone wrote back (except Snowe), stating to the effect that there was not any legislation and motivation to go in that direction...

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