Hundreds of Erie County families looking for daycare help as state eases restrictions for subsidy

Posted at 4:58 AM, May 21, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New numbers show many families in Erie County are looking for help, trying to pay for daycare during the pandemic.

The state has made money available for frontline workers, making up to 300% of the federal poverty level, to pay for childcare.

A family of four, making a little more than $78,000 or less would qualify.

The I-Team has learned more than 300 applications were submitted for this subsidy in Erie County.

Some were denied this money, because of income restrictions, but nearly 200 children are benefiting from this subsidy right now.

Still, there are many questions about a daycare's viability, post-pandemic.

"So we know the immediate need is to get essential and frontline workers childcare and things have been put in place... but is that enough to help a center stay open," questioned Marie Cannon, Commissioner of Erie County's Department of Social Services.

Cannon says 43% of daycares, statewide, are temporarily closed because of the pandemic. They either don't have the children to maintain staffing levels or the financial stability to stay open.

The commissioner says many daycares are waiting to see what happens once the area is totally "unpaused," which creates other problems.

"At this point, all of it seems overwhelming because everything is interconnected," Cannon said. "When we have a pause in employment, what does that mean for childcare, for those children -- they're loosing some learning-- so all of this from this pandemic -- everything is interconnected."

The saving grace, according to Cannon, is that many parents are still home so capacity levels are stable right now.

The frontline worker childcare subsidy was recently made available until May 31.