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Stronger Families Day: Dinolfo Previews 2020 Investments in Services for Children, Families

Stronger Families Day: Dinolfo Previews 2020 Investments in Services for Children, Families

Continuing Monroe County’s second-annual Budget Week, County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo today presented highlights of Monroe County’s 2020 investments in services for local children and families during Stronger Families Day. The event was hosted at Caring and Sharing Childcare on Webster Avenue in the City of Rochester, a daycare provider that works with Monroe County to ensure access to affordable, quality childcare.

“As a mother and grandmother, family means everything to me,” said Dinolfo. “That’s why we will continue to make unprecedented investments in services for local children and families in our 2020 Budget. From increasing funding for affordable daycare, to supporting emergency drop-in childcare, to increasing staff for Early Intervention and more, our investments today will help us keep getting it done to build stronger families in the coming year and beyond.”

Monroe County’s investments in services for local children and families supported by the 2020 Proposed County Budget include:

Increased Access to Affordable and Emergency Childcare

Dinolfo’s proposed 2020 Budget includes $48.4 million in support for affordable childcare, an increase of $541,000 from 2019. Since taking office, Dinolfo’s budgets have reflected a total increase of $6.2 million in funding to support affordable childcare for local families. The 2020 Proposed Budget also includes $1.7 million in funding to support Dinolfo’s recently announced reduction to the affordable childcare “Parent Fee”, which is already benefitting 2,200 low income families, saving the average working family nearly $800 per year.

Dinolfo’s proposed Budget also includes $200,000 in new funding to support the expansion of On-Demand Child Care, a partnership with the Center for Youth. Two drop-in locations, one on the west side on Genesee Park Boulevard, and one on the eastside on Rosewood Terrace, will provide temporary childcare on an emergency basis, for parents who have a medical or work-emergency or last-minute cancellation of childcare plans. The service is free for parents. For more information, visit: http://centerforyouth.net/program/crisis-nursery/.

More Staff for Early Intervention, More Funding for Pre-K Special Education

Dinolfo’s proposed 2020 Budget also includes increased support for two programs benefitting children with special needs: Early Intervention (EI), which serves children ages 0-3 and Pre-K Special Education, which serves children ages 3-5. Both programs are mandated by New York State and managed in part by Monroe County.

To invest in Early Intervention, Dinolfo’s proposed 2020 Budget builds on the action she took in late 2018 to reallocate existing County staff and resources to the Early Intervention Service Coordination unit, to help prevent the need for a waitlist to access Service Coordination services. A statewide shortage in Service Coordinators has been triggered by New York State’s refusal to increase reimbursement rates for providers over a period of several years. While Monroe County cannot by law adjust Early Intervention reimbursement rates, Dinolfo’s proposed 2020 Budget further addresses the local impact of the state-created EI crisis by adding six additional full-time equivalent Service Coordinators to the Early Intervention unit. The additional staff will continue to help guarantee that there is no wait list for Early Intervention Service Coordination services in Monroe County.

To invest in Preschool Special Education, Dinolfo’s proposed 2020 Budget fully-funds the increased Preschool Special Education provider rates implemented by the County earlier this year. For 2020, Monroe County will invest $1.4 million more than in it did in 2018 to support these increased rates; the County has already spent $720,000 more to support Preschool Special Education in 2019 alone after the mid-year rate adjustment. This funding for Preschool Special Education will help to support Dinolfo’s increases for all related service rates set by Monroe County, including: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Education of the Visual and Hearing Impaired, Psychology, One on One Services, Assistive Technologies, Counselling, Coordination of Services, Interpreting, Music Therapy, Orientation and Mobility Services, Audiology, and Parent Counselling and Training. The County has also implemented group rates for providers who offer services to multiple children in the same setting, increasing capacity throughout the Preschool Special Education system.

Continued Implementation of the CPS Eight Point Plan

The proposed 2020 Budget continues to fully fund Child Protective Services (CPS), including the implementation of the Eight Point Plan first announced by Dinolfo in October of 2017. Today the County employs a net 21 additional CPS caseworkers and 14 more casework aides than it did prior to the implementation of the Eight Point Plan. Additionally, a new class of 31 more caseworkers will formally begin training on November 18th. Under the Eight Point Plan, caseworker retention has now reached 91%. To keep building on that success, the 2020 Budget includes $720,000 for caseworker recruitment, support, and training.

Since the implementation of the Eight Point Plan, the Monroe County Department of Human Services (MCDHS) has also delivered a 32% decrease in the number of open CPS investigations, while the average caseload size per worker has fallen by 27%.

A copy of the most recent CPS Eight Point Plan Update, as provided to the Monroe County Legislature, is attached.

A Strong Commitment to Children and Families

Monroe County will invest more than $565 million in services, programs, and initiatives that benefit children and families, representing nearly half of Dinolfo’s proposed $1.3 billion Operating Budget. These investments include: more than $76.3 million in Sales Tax payments to local schools that help keep teachers on the job and students in the classroom; more than $48 million to support affordable child care that helps more parents transition from welfare to work; over $35 million to support Preschool Special Education; almost $22 million to support Child Protective services; more than $23 million to support Child Preventive Services; more than $8 million to support Early Intervention programming; $150,000 to support Baby Safe Sleep; and $275,000 to support new temporary housing locations for the homeless.

Other investments in children and families supported by Dinolfo’s proposed 2020 Budget include:

· The Launch of a New Care Portal

Monroe County is using a new software that connects the needs of local families with the generosity of local faith communities. Specific areas of need, such as winter coats for children or car repairs, can be input into the system by a DHS caseworker. Local churches will have access to the system and will have an opportunity to step up to meet that need.

· Continued Implementation of the Opioid Action Plan

The Monroe County Department of Public Health has facilitated more than 200 community outreach and education events, including Narcan trainings. In the last two years, more than 3,500 Narcan kits have been distributed. Monroe County’s lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies continues to move forward, and any funds recouped will be reinvested in County efforts to save lives and keep residents safe and healthy.

· New Equipment for First Responders

Monroe County’s new state-of-the-art Computer Aided Dispatch System will come online at the joint City-County 911 Center in early 2020. The system will provide 911 dispatchers and first responders a more efficient method of sending and receiving calls for service in times of emergency.

Monroe County also recently completed the build-out of towers and equipment related to its transition to a new state-of-the-art interoperable radio system for local first responders. In 2020, Monroe County will invest $1 million in the purchase of additional Vehicle Repeaters, which add a layer of redundancy to the system to further protect police, fire, and EMS personnel.