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Democrats rallying public opposition to child care increases
Westchester County's Democratic lawmakers are trying to galvanize public opposition to Republican County Executive Rob Astorino's plans to increase the required family contributions for low-income child care programs.
On Friday, Legis. Peter Harckham (D-Katonah), the board's majority leader, will conduct a press conference beginning at 10 a.m. at Mount Kisco Child Care Center with opponents of the changes. A similar event took place at a day care center in Yonkers earlier this week.
At issue is Astorino's drive to make families kick in an additional $120 a month -- on average -- a move Democrats say would create a hardship for many poor families and endanger the safety of youngsters. Democrats fear those children will be forced into unlicensed settings. The changes are scheduled to go into effect Nov. 1.
On Aug. 20, State Supreme Justice Robert Neary tossed out a lawsuit filed by county Legislature chairman Ken Jenkins and other Democrats on the board that sought to block a move increasing contribution levels for the programs from 20 percent to 35 percent. Neary lifted a temporary injunction that had held back the increase, but Democrats have appealed the ruling.
Astorino said the increases are needed because funding available for day care subsidies and other programs for low-income families is dwindling. Officials had suggested the funding could run out before the fall without the increases.
More than 3,500 children participate in the county's day care programs, which cost an estimated $30 million a year to operate. About 75 percent of the funding comes from the federal government.