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Advocates Hoping To Stop Proposed Child Care Subsidy Cuts

Child care advocates are sounding an alarm about the proposed Monroe County budget.
Child care advocates are sounding an alarm about the proposed Monroe County budget. 

The proposed budget for 2014 cuts more than $1 million in funding for child care subsidies. According to the Children's Agenda, 40 percent of eligible families in Monroe County get a subsidy right now. 

"This literally impacts families that walk in these doors. We were very saddened and felt like we went backwards," Lynn Lubecki said.

Advocates at Rochester Childfirst Network say 60 percent of their kids rely on child care subsidies.

"Early care and education is not an option. It's something that has to happen for children's brain development. If they are in a negative environment or environments without nurturing, then their brains get impacted and we pay the price down the road," Lubecki said.

The $1.3 million cut in child care subsidies also puts daycare services in jeopardy. Rochester Childfirst Network is ready to open a new site in downtown Rochester, but now they may not.

"We have 12 families on our waiting list ready to begin there once we get our license, which is coming in the next few days. But none of them can start because they don't have access to funding and it's 100 percent of our families downtown," she said.

The county says money is tight and choices are tough.

"I'm the Commissioner of Human Services [for Monroe County] and I have to figure out what working families and children need in this community and others in this community who face vulnerable circumstances need; and I have to be able to balance all those things out," Kelly Reed said.

Reed says Monroe County is second only to New York City in what it spends on child care subsidies. The Children's Agenda says it should spend more. 

"They are spending more than they need to. They've gone above and beyond what the state says they have to, but for the good of the community's children we feel they should be spending more," Brigit Hurley said.

"If we were able to address all of those needs at 100 percent of what the need is, what we would be doing is asking for additional taxpayer dollars and then everyone would have that as an obligation," Reed said.

The county legislature will have the final say on the budget and daycare cuts. Daycare advocates are not going down without a fight. They are going to show up in numbers at the legislature's Ways & Means Committee meeting on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. 
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