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Forum discusses affordable child care needs

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Beam, Andrew
Publication Date: 
8 Mar 2015


Khady Sidibe says she had to get creative when it came to caring for her three children as a working single mother.

Sidibe, 49, of Wappingers Falls, worked a job from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and ran a child day care service at her home during the day. She was able to fit in some sleep, she says.

Fortunately, Sidibe was able to get a neighbor to stay overnight at her home to watch her children while she went to work.

This was a godsend for Sidibe, especially because it didn't force her to choose between paying for heating oil or child care.

Her neighbor's assistance was an invaluable bridge until she was able to get a 9-to-5 job.

"I didn't have a choice," Sidibe said. "I had to work and I had to come up with a creative way to take care of my children."

Sidibe was one of the more than 20 people who attended "Child Care: A Critical Building Block" in the Sullivan and Orange County Economy forum hosted by the Workforce Development Institute Friday at the Mamakating Library.

Several panelists spoke about how crucial it is for parents to have access to child care so they can continue to work and support their families.

One of the topics discussed were those families who can't afford child care but also make too much money to be eligible for assistance.

WDI offers Child Care Facilitated Enrollment programs, which help those families falling through the cracks in some counties. However, it isn't offered in Sullivan and Orange counties.

According to WDI, the average cost of child care in Orange County is $9,233 per year. In Sullivan County, it's $8,366.

In Albany County, where the WDI benefit is offered, a family of four with an annual income of $51,191 and annual child care costs of $11,024 would receive a $6,552 benefit.

Teamsters Local 445 Vice President Sandy Shaddock - a panelist at the forum - says Sullivan County needs WDI's program. Not only would it help families, but it would also help the county's economy. She says it would keep people from giving up their jobs to take care of their children, which in turn would help grow the county's economy.

Shaddock asked Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther - who also was a panelist - if this was something she could lobby for at the state level.

Shaddock says both counties need just $3 million to help out 400 to 500 families.

Gunther says she will bring a letter of support to the state Legislature on Monday on behalf of the counties.
Gunther spoke about the importance of having access to child care. She says it allows women to improve their education and move up in their careers.

"It needs to be available to them," Gunther said. "It seems like a no-brainer."

Sullivan County Manager Josh Potosek says the WDI program would be great for the county. But the county doesn't have the money to do it.

"It's truly needed," Potosek said. "It's just a funding issue."