News Release

 

For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000
countyexec@co.dutchess.ny.us

October 25, 1999

 

Steinhaus Year 2000 Executive Budget Champions Children's Issues

Poughkeepsie, NY -- Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus has announced details regarding his Year 2000 Executive spending proposals and new initiatives for children. Included in the Executive budget will be another significant increase in child day care spending; a new initiative to increase capacity in the number of child care slots available; an increase in daily rates and diaper allowances for foster care; a new initiative to provide remote access library services; and a major new children's health initiative.

"A hallmark of my agenda for Dutchess County has been to improve the lives of our children and respond to the new and emerging needs of our working families. As an example of this commitment, we have quadrupled our day care spending since 1995!" noted County Executive Steinhaus. "Our policies to expand support of day care programs have also been essential factors in the reduction of welfare caseloads. The drop in welfare caseloads has resulted in an enormous savings to the property taxpayer, both homeowners and businesses. It is one of the reasons our county property tax levy is lower now at the end of the decade than it was at the start of the decade," explained Steinhaus. "But there is a human side to this equation too, and that is to help individuals get jobs, become self sufficient and start enjoying a more productive independent life."

In 1995, we allocated $1.1 million for day care spending. In the 1999 adopted budget, day care allocations totaled $3.7 million, and the Year 2000 Executive budget will recommend a day care allocation of $4.5 million. The day care allocation is a combination of federal, state and local county dollars.

"My budget also includes a new initiative with the Dutchess County Child Development Council to build capacity in the number of day care slots available, with concentration in certain geographic areas of the county. As much as we need to address child care subsidies for low income working families and former welfare families transitioning to work, we also need to deal with the other side of the day care dilemma - availability. Next year, we will strengthen our efforts to build that needed capacity."

"Our recommended county share of spending on day care, including our capacity building initiative, represents an increase over the adopted 1999 level of almost 25%. This reflects our own long time commitment to day care needs, and it should send a positive message to the community that we are aware of your concerns as well," Steinhaus said.

The Year 2000 Executive budget also incorporates increases for both the daily rates and diaper allowances for foster families, as well as an increase in adoption subsidies. The County Executive said, "We agree with legislators' belief that the county must retain good, quality foster parents. In order to do that we must provide the necessary level of support to cover the cost of caring for foster children. This relatively small investment is returned to the community many times when foster children are provided the care, love, and values from their foster families which will help them grow to enjoy a healthy and productive adult life." The gross additional cost for these increases is approximately $250,000, with a net to county cost of $87,500.

Another new initiative introduced to the County Executive by the Mid-Hudson Library System is remote database access, or access to libraries from home. "This initiative will make it possible to access library resources 24 hours per day, seven days per week from the comforts of home," said Steinhaus.

Remote access is not yet available to many Dutchess County residents. This investment will support the work of the Mid-Hudson Library Association in making the "technical links" that will bring such access to everyone. "This is particularly exciting to those of us who have spent at least one Sunday night helping our children with term papers due the next morning ... while the library was closed," Steinhaus commented.

Library officials point out that while a wealth of information is available directly on the net, most providers require a subscription fee for access. Under this program, access charges are borne by the libraries and provided to users at no charge, the same as with printed material. "Remote access provides a unique opportunity for parents to introduce their children to libraries and encourage them to read, explore and learn. We look forward to partnering; with the library system to provide this new service," Steinhaus said. I am allocating $12,976 to the libraries as a county subsidy to provide this service."

County Executive Steinhaus also outlined a major new children's health initiative which he plans to have developed and implemented in the year 2000. "Programs and services to improve and safeguard the health and well-being of our young people are paramount on our public health agenda," said County Executive Steinhaus.

"I will be allocating a substantial new sum of money -- $500,000 -- to develop new and innovative educational programming for children at the earliest ages to teach the harmful effects of tobacco on their health. I envision a collaborative approach to the development of this program, and will assign the task of crafting our strategies and implementing the program to our Children's Services Council."

The Children's Services Council (CSC), a collaboration of agencies and county government uniting to better serve the needs of children, youth and families, was a 1998 Steinhaus State of the County initiative. The Council is comprised of 25-40 members who are representative of the diverse Dutchess County population in term of geography, demographics and/or service constituencies. The United Way of Dutchess County and schools are major partners of the CSC, which also includes the Dutchess County Youth Bureau, the Dutchess County Department of Health, the Dutchess County Department of Social Services, and hospitals and health organizations.

"It will be crucial to the success of this program that we work with our school based partners to strengthen smoking avoidance programs, and that we target the very young. Aside from these very general parameters, however, I will leave it up to those at the table of the CSC to outline and further define what should be included in the program," said Steinhaus. "It is especially appropriate as we enter a new century we do all we can as a community to identify ways to educate our children and commit them to making healthy lifestyle choices," emphasized Steinhaus.

Funding for this initiative will come from the county's first year tobacco settlement allocation, and represents more than 12.5% of the total.

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