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Boro Kids to be Helped

The recent budget deal between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council included millions of dollars in restorations of proposed cuts for child care and infant mortality programs, but advocates for children say they still face stretched budgets and tough times.

For the Administration for Children’s Services, the city agency responsible for child welfare, the most serious threat was a proposed $9 million reduction in funds for preventative care such as counseling and drug treatment programs, a spokeswoman for the agency, McLean Guthrie, said.

The agency also avoided a 5.1 percent cut in the rate foster care agencies are paid, a proposed fee for child care for additional siblings per family that would have generated $1.9 million for the city and the loss of 2,500 low-priority child care slots. Low-priority slots are those for families referred by social service agencies other than the ones with which ACS contracts, Guthrie said.

Vernetta Brown, executive director of the Queens Village Day School and three other child care facilities in southeast Queens, said the budget deal would help her to enroll more children and pay her staff more competitively.

“It is excellent not only for me as a business owner but also for the community to get free child care,” she said.

But for Sharon Rumley, executive director of the Queens Comprehensive Perinatal Council, restored funding is welcome but many planned initiatives still will have to wait.

“We’re hoping that we can continue some of the strategy interventions that we are able to implement with the current funding,” Rumley said. “We want to see that level maintained to reach at-risk women and children.”

But Rumley said that her organization needed more funding — a large part of which comes from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene — to reach out to needy communities.

“We’re talking about families not being able to receive case management services, linkages and referrals,” she said. “The need is there.”

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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