Assemblymember Jaffee, Childcare Providers, Parents, and Advocates Push for Funding Childcare Subsidies in Final State Budget
“83% of low-income families in New York State who qualify for child care assistance do not receive it”
Albany, NY – Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern), Chair of the Assembly Children and Families Committee, held a press conference on Monday, March 13 to express the urgency for funding to be allocated in the final state budget for childcare subsidies. Jaffee was joined by parents, childcare providers, advocates, other committee members and New York State legislators who signed on to a letter she sent to Speaker Heastie requesting the funds for a system that is currently heading towards collapse. The Assembly has allocated funding within its budget, and Jaffee called on the Senate and the Governor to do the same.
Jaffee said “New York's children and families are in urgent need of quality, affordable child care to keep parents working and children learning. Currently, 83% of low-income families in New York State who qualify for child care assistance do not receive it, creating a significant crisis for families, children and our communities. Without access to childcare, parents are not able to work, pursue their education and move themselves out of poverty.”
The cost of childcare in New York State is now the highest in the nation, averaging $14,000 per child a year. Two-thirds of all families are now headed by parents in the workforce and most work full-time by the time their children are three. Child care takes half the wages of Low-income working parents.
Those seeking a subsidy face long waiting lists or are even denied the opportunity to submit an application, because many local county child care assistance programs are frozen, due to lack of funds.
New York's official policy is to offer a subsidy to families earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That means a family of three earning up to $40,180 is eligible for a subsidy. But with limited funds, localities are forced to reduce eligibility levels, create waiting lists or simply deny assistance, leaving families with children to fend for themselves.
“Child care costs easily surpass $10,000 per child per year, and yet the state provides subsidies to only 17% of families with income below 200% of the federal poverty level ($38,180 for a family of three). If we want to improve school readiness, high school graduation, and community economic security, we have to invest in child care quality and affordability.” President and CEO of Schuyler Center for Analysis & Advocacy said. “We thank Assemblywoman Jaffee for recognizing the great hardship this crisis is causing New York families and children and for making investment in child care subsidies a priority.”
“The cost of child care in New York State is now the highest in the nation.” Policy Director Betty Holcomb of Center for Children’s Initiatives said. “These investments are also a proven strategy for reversing growing income inequality in New York State, now the most extreme in the nation.”
Jessica Klos Shapiro, Policy Director of Early Care & Learning Council said, "Our network of Child Care Resource and Referral agencies see each day that it is the lowest income families that have the hardest time finding child care. By investing in childcare we will be taking care of our great state.”
“Safe, quality child care is critically important and helps to ensure that parents are part of our state’s workforce. Unfortunately, for low income working families, quality child care is often out of reach without access to a child care subsidy. Right now, limited funding means that only 17% of eligible families receive subsidies. To continue and support the growth in New York’s economy, is imperative that we continue to make progress in making child care assistance available to low income families across the state,” said Susan Antos, Senior Attorney in the Albany office of Empire Justice Center.
Jenn O’Connor, Director of Policy and Advocacy Prevent Child Abuse New York, said, "Not only does child care allow parents to work or go to school... it contributes to the community. Child care centers and family child care homes account for 12,500 small businesses throughout the state. And every $1 invested in early learning results in a $1.86 reinvested locally. That's more than the return on investment for retail, manufacturing, or construction. It is time for NYS to invest in what truly keeps our state working – child care."