President’s Message: Let our policymakers know child care matters
Greetings, friends. We miss you. We miss seeing you in our office and yours, at meetings, in the Capitol, on the street. We hope you and your loved ones are well. And we look forward to being together again.
The work of shaping public policy is critical, now more than ever, and there are many ways you can help.
Join us in advancing legislation to cut child poverty and improve equity. Child poverty reduction legislation has been introduced in the NYS Senate and Assembly. The bill seeks to cut child poverty in half by 2030, with a focus on racial equity, and would require the State’s budget director to consider the child poverty ramifications of policies. Senator Jessica Ramos from Queens introduced S. 9012 and Assemblymember Harry Bronson from Rochester introduced A. 11063. We are working with both to urge additional legislators to sign on as co-sponsors of the bills and to sign on to a pledge to consider all policies through a child poverty and equity lens. We are leading this work from the outside, together with a strong and motivated group of partners including The Children’s Agenda, American Academy of Pediatrics-NYS, Children’s Defense Fund-NY, Westchester Children’s Association, Citizens’ Committee for Children, Prevent Child Abuse NY, the Education Trust-NY, and Robin Hood. In some ways, this initiative is the umbrella over much of our other work. The legislation and pledge ask New York State policymakers to comprehend and assess the child poverty and racial equity implications of decisions they make. Our colleagues at The Children’s Agenda coordinated a press event (in person, socially distanced, outdoors) in Rochester about the legislation in late October and we’re working with bill sponsor, Senator Ramos, to plan a mid-November event in Queens.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, children in New York were more likely to live in poverty than children in 31 other states, with 19% experiencing poverty in 2019. The United Hospital fund estimates over 300,000 New York children are being driven into, or to the brink of, poverty due to rising unemployment related to COVID-19. Structural and systemic racism have contributed to rates of child poverty among New York children of color that exceed 30%. Many children who experience poverty face significant challenges—poor health, academic obstacles, and lower earnings—for the rest of their lives.
We were encouraged by the Governor’s remarks over the summer, calling on the federal government to end child poverty and we know New York can lead the way by setting this policy goal of a 50% reduction by 2030. Reducing child poverty will protect the health and well-being of all New Yorkers, grow our economy, and lead to long term savings for New York’s budget. This promise from our policymakers cannot come soon enough.
Let our policymakers know child care matters. Millions of working parents across New York are confronting balancing job responsibilities with caring for and supporting the education of their school-age children who are receiving care and instruction remotely or in a hybrid manner. At the same time, parents are struggling to secure or maintain access to safe, quality child care for their infants, toddlers, and pre-school-aged children. We’re continuing to work with allies across New York to call attention to our crumbling child care infrastructure and the things policymakers can to do shore it up. You can get more information in our Back to School Checklist for Fall 2020. And then call your Member of Congress and let them know what we need. We are also awaiting recommendations from Governor’s Child Care Availability Task Force, hopeful that they will be bold and comprehensive, and that Governor Cuomo will act on them this year, without delay.
These are just a few of the things we’re working on. Rest assured, we are still bringing our voice to child welfare, maternal mental health, oral health, Medicaid, and tax policy. And we need you—every single person—to join us.
Kate Breslin, President and CEO