Working poor New Yorkers may soon have a new resource for child care assistance: welfare. City officials recently started to implement a regulation change that would enable New Yorkers who work 20 or more hours a week, yet are poor enough to qualify for welfare, to forego the work requirements of welfare and just receive child care assistance instead. The option, called “Child Care in Lieu of Public Assistance,” was enacted by the state in 1999 and has been available to city welfare recipients since 2001. But until the state handed down implementation instructions last year, the city didn’t offer it freely. Recipients who choose the option would still be obligated to keep certification appointments and meet other administrative requirements in order to receive the subsidy. Yet opening a child-care-only case would not count against their federal 5-year lifetime limit for public assistance. As for how many are likely to take advantage of it, officials couldn’t say; a quick look at the welfare department’s website, however, shows that the city had 12,665 recipients working 20 or more hours a week in mid-March. (T. McMillan)