After a series of roundtables that brought hard-hitting testimony from a diverse group of advocates and stakeholders, Speaker Sheldon Silver and members of the Assembly Child Care Workgroup today announced recommendations aimed at strengthening and expanding affordable and accessible child care in New York State. The Workgroup includes Assemblymembers Catherine Nolan, Carl Heastie, Michele Titus, Aileen Gunther, Donna Lupardo and Addie Russell.
"We have heard from parents, child care providers and advocates from across the state. We have heard firsthand that the single largest obstacle to maintaining employment for parents, particularly mothers, is access to reliable, safe and nurturing child care that hard working families can afford. The Assembly Majority is committed to changing this reality through the creation of a system that promotes paid family leave, increased funding for child care subsidies and programs to improve the quality of care available," said Silver.
New York State is in the throes of a child care crisis. This crisis not only weakens our economy, it hinders the development of our children. Through extensive research and analysis, the Workgroup offers a series of recommendations including:
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, chair of the Education Committee said, "I was honored to be part of the New York State Child Care Workgroup. I would like to thank Speaker Silver for making the issue of paid family leave a priority and I hope the recommendations in this report will start a great conversation for the next legislative session."
Assemblyman Carl Heastie, chair of the Labor Committee said, "The recommendations made by the New York State Assembly Child Care Workgroup benefit New York State's working families. For far too long, our neediest families have had to make tough choices. When passed, these recommendations, which are slated to provide child care subsidies and ensure that there are investments in early learning facilities, will lift the burden from the shoulders of many working families."
Assemblywoman Michele Titus, chair of the Social Services Committee said, "Our children of today are our workforce of tomorrow. It is important that we provide parents with the tools they need to work and provide for their families. However, we cannot overlook the essential need to protect and nurture our children by providing them each a safe child care environment that helps them to learn and grow."
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, chair of the Mental Health Committee said, "As a grandmother and mother of three, I know the challenges of being a working parent. We must make every effort to support families in New York, especially low-income families transitioning off of social services. Increasing child care subsidies is not only good policy; it's the right thing to do. Child care is a smart investment with a tremendous return, one that we have a responsibility to make to improve the quality of life of children and families across the state."
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, chair of the Children and Families Committee said, "Increased investment in child care and quality early learning will benefit every aspect of society. After several informative roundtables, the Child Care Workgroup has specific recommendations that, when implemented, will make a real difference in the lives of all New Yorkers. By prioritizing the needs and interests of children and families, we will strengthen the health and resiliency of our youngest citizens, our workforce, and our economy."
Assemblywoman Addie Russell, chair of the Task Force on Women's Issues said, "These proposals are targeted to help middle-class families and the working poor provide stable and high-quality child care so they can prosper in their careers and have the financial security necessary to meet the demands of being a parent. Part of that equation is supporting child care providers by streamlining the regulatory process and providing additional state support to providers so that they can effectively run their businesses."
With a lack of quality, affordable child care still an obstacle for many working families, Silver convened the Workgroup on child care issues in May. The Workgroup held a series of roundtables with child care and social welfare advocacy groups, representatives of child care programs, and representatives of the business and provider community to discuss the causes and effects of the crisis. The Workgroup also examined the challenges working families face in finding child care, the adequacy of child care subsidies, and regional and socio-economic variables, as well as ideas for developing, expanding and enhancing child care services.
Susan Antos, senior attorney at the Empire Justice Center, said "The Empire Justice Center applauds the Assembly for taking the time to host three roundtable discussions, inviting a wide variety of stakeholders and thoughtfully responding with a comprehensive proposal. We are proud to support these recommendations, particularly the increased investments in child care, the proposal for affordable family copayments and for recognizing that child care is a critical building block of economic development."
Deborah King, chair of the New York Union Child Care Coalition said, "The Assembly proposal is an all-encompassing effort to move the crucial child care and working family's agenda forward in New York State. It addresses the need for quality care, including supporting providers by implementing funding and regulations that make sense and suggests numerous low-cost initiatives which would improve access. We particularly applaud the Assembly's recognition of the need for more subsidy dollars, including additional funding and expansion for facilitated enrollment which serves families up to 275 percent of poverty. The cost of child care is prohibiting parents from working or creating unbearable financial burdens on families. We applaud the Assembly for this wide-ranging proposal and for highlighting that expenditures on child care are investments in economic development. We cannot move New York State forward without supporting today's working families and tomorrow's workforce--our children."
Jenn O'Connor, New York State director of the Council for a Strong America said, "Council for a Strong America is pleased that the Assembly Workgroup on Child Care has made recommendations that, if enacted, would strengthen early learning programs across New York State. We support increased investments in high-quality programs in a variety of settings, increased provider training and program improvements, various work supports, and Paid Family Leave. Our business leader members in particular support promoting early investments to ensure not only kindergarten readiness, but college and career readiness in the future. Council for a Strong America represents more than 300 law enforcement leaders and crime survivors through Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and 150 business leaders through America's Edge."
Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, executive director of the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) said, "While the majority of child care subsidies support care for younger children, approximately a third create opportunities for school-age children to be safe and engaged after school, and school-age child care is an important part of the regulated system. From the beginning, the Assembly Work Group on Child Care approached New York's complex child care system from multiple angles, and their recommendations highlight the many ways that the system can better align to improve opportunities for children and families. The New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) applauds the Assembly's call on behalf New York's children for additional subsidies, streamlined access for families, strong support for quality programs, and investment in child care through the State's economic development decisions.
Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO said, "With three daughters myself, I know that no parent can be productive at work if they're worrying about the well-being of their children. We commend Speaker Silver and the members of the Assembly's Workgroup on Child Care for putting forward smart policy proposals to improve access to quality child care and give workers a real chance to care for sick loved ones and new children. Doing so will strengthen families, bolster our workforce and make our state's economy stronger. These are exactly the type of issues that hardworking New Yorkers are looking to their leaders to address."
Danny Donohue, president of CSEA said, "This package demonstrates strong leadership and recognition of the importance of affordable, accessible, quality child care for strong communities and a working economy. Speaker Silver and the members of the Assembly Child Care Workgroup deserve tremendous appreciation from working New Yorkers for leading us forward on what's right for children, families and a better New York."
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which represents 20,000 home-based family child care providers, said, "We support these recommendations as needed improvements to the way New York State provides child care services. With these changes, more low-income families will be able to enroll their children in day care. These proposals would also eliminate many of the senseless barriers that keep families from getting these services, and at the same time empower child care providers to improve their craft and raise the quality of day-care programs across the board. We commend Speaker Silver, and the members of the Assembly Child Care Workgroup."
The Winning Beginning New York Steering Committee issued a statement, "Winning Beginning NY is pleased that the Assembly Workgroup on Child Care has released a report in line with the Coalition's recommendations for increased investments, equitable access, and higher quality in early learning programs. We continue to urge NYS to restore $82M in subsidies for low-income families. We thank the Assembly for hosting three roundtables on these issues and for inviting input from advocates and experts. We further thank the Assembly for this thorough proposal, which provides an important step forward as NYS works toward a comprehensive early learning system that promotes children's healthy social, emotional, cognitive and physical development and success in school and in life. Winning Beginning NY is a statewide coalition working to inform policymakers and the public about the many benefits of early care and learning including home visiting, child care and Pre-K."
Jessica Klos Shapiro of the Early Care and Learning Council said, "The recommendations put forth by the Assembly Workgroup on Child Care are aligned with the vision of the Early Care & Learning Council and the need for more supports for children and families within New York State. We thank the group for their backing of key legislation and proposals which will provide work supports to parents and in turn allow for better child care options for their children. Providing additional regulatory information and clarity to both child care providers and parents, as well as better data collection and access to subsidies, are good steps toward increasing the quality and consistency of child care services which are provided statewide. The mission of the Early Care & Learning Council is to promote excellence in early care and education with equal access for all families through a strong network of community-based organizations that provide Child Care Resource and Referral services."
Stephanie Gendell of the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York said, "Citizens' Committee for Children is grateful to the Assembly for its commitment to expanding access to high quality child care to low-income families throughout the state and for addressing laws and regulations that make this more challenging for localities, providers and parents. We look forward to working with the Assembly, as well as the Senate and the Governor, to make the recommendations in the Assembly's report a reality for New Yorkers."
The full report can be found on the Assembly website: http://assembly.state.ny.us/comm/ChildCare/20131220/index.pdf.