SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Schenectady County launched a new online portal on Monday, designed to connect families to child care assistance and streamline provider certification. The portal, dubbed “Schenectady County Cares,” aims to create a stronger child care community in the county.

“Many parents and caregivers struggle to find safe, affordable child care. This has only intensified due to the pandemic, when many child care providers shut their doors or cut services due to staffing or other issues,” said Schenectady County Legislator Michelle Ostrelich, Chair of the Health, Housing & Human Services Committee. “We’re working to make child care assistance more accessible to our hardworking families by expanding eligibility and eliminating the need for paper applications and in-person processing. Our new online portal allows parents and caregivers to apply for child care assistance when it fits into their busy schedules.”

Eligibility for child care assistance has been expanded to help more families meet their child care needs for employment, job searching, or for working towards an educational, vocational, or training program. A family of four with an annual combined household income of less than $83,250 is now eligible to receive child care subsidies. A full list of income standards is available online.

To access the new portal, users will be prompted to create an online account. This allows them to safely and securely apply for child care benefits through Schenectady County’s Department of Social Services. All required documentation can be uploaded to the portal, streamlining the process. The portal is located on the county’s dedicated “Schenectady County Cares” webpage.

Schenectady County has also made it easier for providers to become certified to increase the number of placements available for families who qualify for child care assistance. This includes center-and-home-based care providers, family members, close friends, or other trusted caregivers.

Families, caregivers, and providers who have questions about eligibility requirements, the online portal, or the application and certification process can email or call (518) 388-4739 for assistance.