Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee secured financing to cover a funding shortfall for the YMCA service that provides free drop-in child care for low-income families who must appear in family court.
The Children’s Center, located in the Rockland County Courthouse served 1,120 families last year. In previous years, the program had operated at a deficit, which was covered by fundraising efforts by the YMCA.
After learning from Rockland YMCA CEO Charles Maze about their financial difficulties, Assemblywoman Jaffee called New York State Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Gladys Carrión for help. The commissioner responded by providing the $15,000 needed to cover the loss. She also made a commitment to re-evaluate the amount of funding the program receives in the future.
“I’m appreciative of Commissioner Carrión’s swift response and genuine concern over the well-being of this vital program,” said Assemblywoman Jaffee. “Individuals who are in crisis should be able to resolve their family court issues without the additional burden of finding childcare. As always, the YMCA runs an outstanding program that responds to community needs, and we need to keep that program operational.”
“It’s important to keep programs like the YMCA’s Children’s Center open and operating,” said Commissioner Carrión. “Providing families with quality child care while they are in court is a joint priority of the Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Court Administration. Frankly, we’d like to see more of these programs in family courts across the state.”
"Most of this program is funded by a 5 year grant from the New York State Unified Court System,” said Maze. “However, the operational costs have increased to the point where we need more funding to sustain it. We are very fortunate to receive this grant thanks to Ellen Jaffee's advocacy efforts on behalf of so many children and families"
Rockland County Family Court Judge Linda Christopher, chairwoman of the Center's Advisory Board, said, "The center not only shelters children from adult matters but also provides child care for parents who might not be able to afford it. This provides an opportunity for children to be in a safe environment where they are being cared for by professionals while the parties are going about their business in court.”
In addition to free child care, program staff also provides families with information or referrals and connections to health, education, social services, and housing resources that they may require.