“The NYS Child Care system is in crisis!”
That was the message sent by child care advocates across New York State- including the leadership of Family of Woodstock, Inc.’s Child Care Connections program- who joined forces in Albany on February 4th during Advocacy Day to urge NYS legislators to include investments in child care funding.
“Child care is the cornerstone of any community,” said Suzanne Holdridge, Program Director of Child Care Connections in Columbia and Greene Counties. “Parents rely on quality child care to be able to work. Businesses rely on child care to enable them to have a productive workforce. The community relies on child care for small business opportunities and to grow healthy, productive children. Child care providers have been suffering with low pay and inadequate subsidy reimbursements, which reduces the providers’ ability to attract child care workers, participate in professional development opportunities, pay for improvements in their facilities, and meet regulatory compliance requirements.”
Child care is unaffordable for parents across New York, with an average of 34% of a household’s income going towards child care costs in Columbia, Greene and Ulster counties in 2019. The number of legal child care programs has decreased significantly over the past 10 years. In Columbia County, the number of legal child care programs has decreased a staggering 58%, while Greene and Ulster Counties have dropped 42% and 37%, respectively.
“These numbers indicate a large deficit in where our children can go, where they are cared for in a legal, safe, quality environment,” said Penny Dombrowski, Program Director of Child Care Connections in Ulster County. “With fewer options, parents are forced to seek illegal care, which may not offer safe, quality environments for their children.”
The most formative years of a child’s life are from birth through 3 years of age, during which brain growth is the quickest. These are the years when a quality child care environment with qualified, attentive staff is critical, and can make a difference in a child’s growth and development, setting them on the path for school readiness and success.
Governor Cuomo’s 2020-2021 budget proposal did not include any funding for child care, and actually reflects a $1.6 million decrease in child care funding from the previous fiscal year. The Executive Budget proposal also reflects $4.3 million in cuts for professional development for child care employees.
“This is a major issue that will impact communities across New York State,” said Kerry Wolfeil, Team Leader for Child Care Connections. “With the requirements for child care providers to maintain compliance with regulations increasing, and the high cost of child care for parents, we need more funding to be invested in quality child care, not less.”
Pictured above: Action Committee Member, Heidi-jo Brandt joined fellow advocates Penny Dombrowski and Sue Holdridge for a very productive conversation with Assemblymember Chris Tague on the need for child care funding. Later, Brandt joined up with CSEA/VOICE President Pamela Wells and other advocates for an equally productive conversation about funding child care with Assemblymember Carrie Woerner. It was a very good day.
About Child Care Connections:
Child Care Connections (CCC) is the local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R), one of 35 CCR&Rs across the state. CCC offers free referrals to parents seeking legal child care, provides regulatory oversight of Family Child Care and School Age Child Care programs in Columbia, Greene and Ulster Counties, and serves as the local sponsor of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which is a federal reimbursement program for providers serving nutritious meals and snacks to the children in their care. CCC also is a local resource for the community, offering Infant Toddler Specialist services for providers, and offering expertise in the areas of child growth and development.