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NNY counties receive $7.5 million in child care assistance

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WATERTOWN — North country counties will receive about $7.5 million in state funding for child care assistance for working families who fall at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced allocations to local Departments of Social Services from the New York State Child Care Block Grant, including $938,975 for Franklin County, $1,972,161 for Jefferson County, $309,023 for Lewis County, $2,387,615 for Oswego County and $1,871,243 for St. Lawrence County for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

“There’s always a need for working moms and dads,” said Stacy L. Alvord, Lewis County Social Services commissioner. “It keeps them in their job. It’s such a huge issue, especially for those moms and dads who work that second and third shift.”

Through 2013, she said, about 40 children were cared for through DSS-contracted day care providers. Mrs. Alvord said the good thing about the people of Lewis County is that many family members serve as child care providers, especially for parents who work later or late-night shifts.

Jefferson County Social Services Commissioner Theresa W. Gaffney said a certain percentage is paid to families who apply for the special assistance, so funds may not cover child care costs in full. She said parents who are on temporary assistance and need to maintain employment, or are switching careers and receive vocational or educational training, may apply for the funds if they meet income eligibility guidelines.

While DSS agencies use contract day care providers, Mrs. Gaffney said parents may use their own family as an informal provider. That person could be paid by use of the block grant funding, she said.

Jefferson County DSS served 694 children in 2013 with its 2013-14 allocation, which was slightly higher than its 2014-15 allocation, Mrs. Gaffney said.

Mrs. Alvord said the funding amount remains about the same each year. St. Lawrence County Social Services Commissioner Christopher R. Rediehs said his agency received $1,793,260 in 2013-14, which was about $78,000 less than the current fiscal year. Any child care assistance funding is much appreciated in St. Lawrence County, he said.

“It’s a very helpful resource for families with lower incomes,” he said. “We’d love to encourage people to complete applications. They’re available on the county website, and we can mail out applications.”

Mr. Rediehs said families will qualify for some child care block grant funding, for example, if they make up to $31,460 for a family of two, or $47,700 for a family of four. Local DSS social welfare examiners will be able to walk clients through eligibility requirements and offer applications.

For more information, call DSS agencies at 782-9030 for Jefferson County, 376-5400 for Lewis County and 379-2111 for St. Lawrence County.

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