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Childcare Ruling Benefits Mount Vernon Parents

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – County Legislator Lyndon Wiliams and fellow Democrats on the Westchester Board of Legislators (BOL) won a court decision Tuesday lifting the county cap on childcare slots.

The victory comes less than a week after Lyndon publicly opposed cuts to childcare in Mount Vernon.

However, a proposal now on the table from County Executive Rob Astorino would increase day care contributions from 20 percent to 35 percent for a family of three making up to $36,620. Astorino's proposal would take effect Nov. 1 if approved by the BOL.

New York State mandates that counties pay between 10 and 35 percent for childcare. In February, that number went up to 20 percent in Westchester, from 15 percent. Williams said that when Astorino took office county payments for child care were drastically cut. Reductions were also set is the number of daycare spaces provided by the county, which Astorino attributed to lack of funding.

But the ruling by Judge James W. Hubert of the Westchester County Supreme Court restrains Astorino from refusing to let the Department of Social Services (DSS) process applications for daycare subsidies. The DSS had said Sept. 17 was the last day subsidy requests would be accepted.

“I’m pleased by today’s decision because keeping child care subsidies available for our hard-working, low-income families is right for Westchester,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “Money was shifted around in Social Services last year to pay for a similar shortfall, and it was not a big deal.”

Still, Republican Minority Leader James Maisano (R-New Rochelle) said the childcare debate should be resolved by the county legislature and Astorino, not a judge.

“We were elected to analyze and debate county issues, work in a collegial and professional manner with our legislative colleagues and the county executive and his administration, and then make decisions, even when the decision may be complicated and difficult,” Maisano said.

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