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Ayotte tours Concord YMCA child center to highlight need for continued grant funding

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. gets a group hug from kids enrolled in the childcare program at the Concord YMCA after they took a group photo during her visit on Friday, May 16, 2014. The Senator visited several classrooms, sang with preschoolers and talked to parents who have benefited from the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant program, which the U.S. Senate just renewed based on legislation Ayotte cosponsored. <br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. gets a group hug from kids enrolled in the childcare program at the Concord YMCA after they took a group photo during her visit on Friday, May 16, 2014. The Senator visited several classrooms, sang with preschoolers and talked to parents who have benefited from the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant program, which the U.S. Senate just renewed based on legislation Ayotte cosponsored.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., flips through a book presented to her during her visit to the childcare program at the Concord YMCA on Friday, May 16, 2014. The Senator visited several classrooms, sang with preschoolers and talked to parents who have benefited from the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant program, which the U.S. Senate just renewed based on legislation Ayotte cosponsored. <br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., flips through a book presented to her during her visit to the childcare program at the Concord YMCA on Friday, May 16, 2014. The Senator visited several classrooms, sang with preschoolers and talked to parents who have benefited from the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant program, which the U.S. Senate just renewed based on legislation Ayotte cosponsored.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. visited the childcare program at the Concord YMCA on Friday, May 16, 2014. The Senator visited several classrooms, sang with preschoolers and talked to parents who have benefited from the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant program, which the U.S. Senate just renewed based on legislation Ayotte cosponsored. <br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. visited the childcare program at the Concord YMCA on Friday, May 16, 2014. The Senator visited several classrooms, sang with preschoolers and talked to parents who have benefited from the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant program, which the U.S. Senate just renewed based on legislation Ayotte cosponsored.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. gets a group hug from kids enrolled in the childcare program at the Concord YMCA after they took a group photo during her visit on Friday, May 16, 2014. The Senator visited several classrooms, sang with preschoolers and talked to parents who have benefited from the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant program, which the U.S. Senate just renewed based on legislation Ayotte cosponsored. <br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., flips through a book presented to her during her visit to the childcare program at the Concord YMCA on Friday, May 16, 2014. The Senator visited several classrooms, sang with preschoolers and talked to parents who have benefited from the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant program, which the U.S. Senate just renewed based on legislation Ayotte cosponsored. <br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. visited the childcare program at the Concord YMCA on Friday, May 16, 2014. The Senator visited several classrooms, sang with preschoolers and talked to parents who have benefited from the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant program, which the U.S. Senate just renewed based on legislation Ayotte cosponsored. <br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte stopped in Concord yesterday to tour the YMCA Child Development Center and show her support for reauthorizing a block grant program that helps low-income families access its services.

The senator is co-sponsoring a bill to continue the grant program, which was created in 1990 under the Bush administration and serves more than 1.6 million children nationally each month. The Concord center serves 130 pre-school-age children and upward of 350 kids in after-school services at the Y and affiliated local schools, said board member Brett St. Clair. About 21 percent of families who use the services receive partial funding through the grant program.

“It makes a huge difference to families,” St. Clair said.

St. Clair said Ayotte became aware of the grant program earlier this year while speaking with the facility’s CEO, Jim Doremus, in Washington, D.C. Ayotte planned to meet yesterday with a handful of parents who use the funding. One, a father of two, was homeless recently and was able to use the services as he looked for work, St. Clair said.

“This would not have been possible without a safe place for him to entrust his children while he is working,” St. Clair said.

Wilma Dennis, a 53-year-old Franklin resident and a teacher at the Y, said she uses the grant program herself to offset child-care costs for a young relative whom she has had legal guardianship for the past four years.

“The grant has helped me because when I considered taking guardianship, there was no way I could do it without funds for child care,” she said.

The Concord YMCA is the largest licensed child-care provider in Merrimack County. To qualify for the grant funds, children must be less than 13 years old; must live with parents who are working, enrolled in school or training; or be in need of protective services. Family income cannot exceed 85 percent of the state median income.

The bill reauthorizing the program passed the U.S. Senate in March and must now pass the House. In a statement in March, Ayotte said she recognized the need for the funding.

“This program is designed to help those who are working or actively gaining the skills they need to get a job,” Ayotte said. “By helping to ensure that those who want to work can pursue opportunities to do so, these families can become financially independent.”

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

If grant money does not come through, will this be another "vital or critical" program that will be stopped or will Concord pick up the bill for Concord residents?

Now all we need is a post from BPR or ITSA complaining about spending tax money on poor people who should be paying for their own child care.

Crickets. Must have something to do with that R after the senator's name.

Cropped from our view here are twice as many kids, all spawned by registered Democrats, glowering from across the room.

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