In late August, New York State's Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) released its allocation of child care block grant funding, which helps lower income families pay for child care services. For the 2018-19 fiscal year, Erie County is looking at a $391,810 cut from the previous year, according to documents from OCFS.
"We have people who will lose their subsidy because there is less money, potentially," Sheri Scavone warned. She is the executive director of WNY Women's Foundation. "Certainly we're not going in the right direction in terms of having more subsidies available for qualifying families, qualifying working families."
According to the Erie County Department of Social Services, no one locally will lose coverage. The department also said in a statement, "County Officials do believe that it is problematic Erie County does not receive its fair share in child care funding when compared to other counties located in New York State".
The block grant is federal funding, but New York State calculates how it is allocated to different counties. Erie County officials say because the federal fiscal year is different than the state, the county notices a smaller drop in funding between years.
"Any time we lose funding, we're going in the wrong direction," Scavone said. "I think there is some real disproportion between our Western New York counties and other areas of the state."
According to documents from OCFS, the state had $7 million more dollars to distribute in fiscal year 2018-2019 than it did in 2017-2018. New York City's funding went up one percent, which translates to $3,929,840 and Nassau County saw a six percent increase of $3,265,095.
When comparing the latest state allocation to the previous fiscal year, other WNY counties will also lose money. The following counties all see drops in funding: Allegany ($199,097), Cattaraugus ($179,621), Chautauqua ($395,301), Orleans ($33,056) and Wyoming ($13,890).
7 Eyewitness News reached out to OCFS to ask what led to these changes in funding. A spokesperson released the following statement:
"Child care allocations are made based upon prior years’ claims and any unspent funds. Counties with significant unspent funds from the previous year receive a reduction in their allocation which is redistributed to counties that spent their subsidy in the previous year. In 2018, Erie County rolled over $1,560,435 of its unused 2017 allocation. It therefore received a 1.6% reduction in its 2018 allocation."