New York Children Need Access to Quality Early Learning
Last week, both houses of New York State’s Legislature proposed to invest $20 million to enable more families to access child care subsidies, along with a commitment to maintain the $26 million proposed by the Executive to increase subsidy reimbursement rates. If included in the final state budget agreement, the allocation of $20 million for new subsidies would mark the first significant new state investment in child care subsidies in five years.
What does this mean?
The new investment would enable more than 2000 additional New York children from low-income working families to have access to quality early learning, while making it possible for their parent(s) to work and achieve economic security. Fewer than 20% of low-income working families are currently able to access quality child care due to inadequate state investment. This unified legislative proposal to add $20 million for child care shows that the dire need for increased state investment in child care is finally being heard.
Many child care providers are shutting their doors around the state because current subsidy reimbursement rates are too low to meet rising costs. As a result, many families have trouble finding regulated child care even if they can afford the costs. Providers trying to stay afloat are often forced to keep wages low, to trim staff numbers and increase staff workloads. But these action result in high turnover and the loss of the most qualified teachers.
For many families with young children, child care is their largest monthly bill. The average cost for full-time center-based care is $15,000 a year for an infant. Subsidized child care allows parents to build economic security while raising young children. It also prevents working families from falling into poverty due to child care costs – a leading contributor to family poverty.
The end result:
The $26 million proposed in the Executive, Senate and Assembly budgets, if included in the final enacted budget, will ensure that subsidy reimbursement rates remain stable outside of New York City. The $20 million proposed in the Senate and Assembly budgets, if included in the final enacted budget, will enable more low-income working families to receive a child care subsidy so that they can access quality child care while they work. These twin investments would not solve the state’s child care crisis, but would represent a significant step in the right direction. Schuyler Center and our partners in the Empire State Campaign for Child Care and Winning Beginning New York will spend the final weeks of budget working with our legislative champions, Assemblymembers Ellen Jaffee and Jean-Pierre, and Senator Montgomery, urging that these investments in child care are included in the final 2019-2020 New York State Budget.