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Will funding come through to help keep North Country child care centers open?

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 6:57 PM EDT
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ROUSES POINT, N.Y. (WCAX) - Child care is a concern on many parents’ minds as they go back to work and districts use a hybrid model to get kids learning again. Our Kelly O’Brien spoke with families and child care centers about a problem they are facing.

Some North Country families were able to send their kids to child care programs for free during the pandemic. They say they are grateful but the Child Care Council says if the state doesn’t start paying its bill, these programs won’t be able to offer the free help anymore.

“It definitely helped me financially,” said Emily Rinn, a parent and staffer at the Champlain Children’s Learning Center.

The Champlain Children’s Learning Center has seen some new faces over the last 10 weeks thanks to CARES money from the Child Care Council, but the center still is not at full enrollment.

“We’ve had very low numbers every day,” said Kathy Tetreault of the Champlain Children’s Learning Center.

Some of the families that used the free child care work at the learning center. Parents say it put them at ease knowing their kids were in good hands while they went to work.

“It makes it easier knowing that she’s safe when she does come,” said Emma Ducharme, a parent and staffer at the Champlain Children’s Learning Center.

But the Child Care Council fears that without more funding from the state or the federal government, essential child care programs will take a hit.

“Their budgets are based on full enrollment. They are large organizations and they generally have some significant fixed cost. The supplies that we have given them are not enough,” said Jamie Basillere of the Child Care Council.

The Child Care Council offers help to families with their child care needs. The Council received $105,000 in CARES money and with that, they sent 80 kids from 60 families to 40 different child care programs and spent $50,000 on supplies for those child care facilities.

But that money has dried up and the nonprofit says they need the money they are owed by the state to continue to operate.

“The state is not paying its bills. Right now, they owe us, New York State owes us over $225,000. By the end of next month, it will be half a million dollars,” Basillere said.

Assemblyman Billy Jones says the state has only handed out about half of the CARES money it has been given from the federal government.

“These crucial programs, these child care providers have put these services out and we need to pay them for these essential services,” said Jones, D-Plattsburgh.

Most of the families that qualified for the free child care were ALICE families. ALICE is short for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed families. Some 31% of families in the region fall in this category.

“Stable child care is essential to enhance financial stability for hardworking families across the region. ALICE families need this funding,” said John Bernardi of the United Way of the Adirondack Region.

The Child Care Council is asking for more funding from the federal government so child care centers like the Champlain Children’s Learning Center can continue free child care for families that need it during the school year.

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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