New York State's budget, finally passed in early August. It includes new desperately-needed statewide funding for day care for poor working families, adding $162 million dollars to the $460 million child care budget. This should translate into about 50,000 new day care slots across the state. Supply may not meet demand in NYC, though, where 40,000 children are already on the waiting list for subsidized day care. The City's low-cost day care program currently accommodates 66,000 kids. Advocates expect the waiting list to balloon as deadlines for ending parents' welfare benefits approach.
Farber Sounds Off:
Watch out in the coming months for the early effects of the new federal Adoption and Safe Families Act. The law reflects the good intentions of US legislators but it may wreak havoc with NYC families caught up in the child welfare system. The law requires states to terminate parental rights of those parents whose children have been in foster care longer than 15 months. Roughly 40,000 children are in foster care in NYC. On average they stay for over four years, in part because Family Court is so overwhelmed it can't move any faster. Turning these kids into orphans is a risky public policy.
Peggy J. Farber is freelance journalist specializing in children's issues. Her reporting on conditions of NYC children has appeared in City Limits Magazine as well as on National Public Radio.