The county has, over the past five years, cut the amount it pays toward child day care subsidies by approximately $2.6 million. County Legislature Democrats today asked County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo to put back $1 million of the funding in her upcoming 2017 budget proposal.
The ask echoes a request from the Children's Agenda, which says that the need for day care assistance exceeds the number of available slots. Democrats and advocates say that an increase in child care subsidies would lead to more open slots, which would allow more low-income parents to work and become self-sufficient.
"If there's good will for a cause, there's a way," Democratic Minority Leader Cynthia Kaleh said during a press conference this afternoon.
Through a series of cuts, the county dropped its funding for child care subsidies from $8.2 million in 2011 to $5.6 million in the 2016 budget. The state has modestly increased the amount of funding it provides the county for the subsidies. So the funding has remained effectively flat, while the cost of child care has increased, and demand has grown, especially in the suburbs.
"We need this," said Legislator Vincent Felder. "It's important for all of our residents."
Former County Executive Maggie Brooks and members of her administration pushed back against previous requests for more child care funding. They said that the county had done its part by consistently providing substantially more money than the state required, and that it was time for the state to step up and help the county meet local child care subsidy needs.
Dinolfo will most likely release her budget proposal after Election Day.