Public Policy and Advocacy Update
Child care is certainly in the news in 2018. The Council’s new “Advocacy on the Go” campaign, with support from the Westchester Community Foundation, helped to secure $1.6 million of new funding for child care in the Westchester County budget. A new statewide coalition, the Empire State Campaign for Child Care, formed after last year’s child care cut in the NYS budget, promised both new allies and strategies in the fight for the 18-19 NYS budget. Although the Trump administration “fat budget” contained cuts to child care, a budget bill passed by Congress and signed by the president in early February includes an unprecedented boost to child care.
Clearly 2018 is going to be an interesting year.
Although the Council’s advocacy efforts, especially on the county level, have been successful, we have always wanted to get more parents involved. So we launched “Advocacy on the Go” on the principle that if we could bring advocacy opportunities directly to parents, they would participate. Our first “Calls for Kids” campaign brought Council staff and board members to 20 programs around the county in November, following the release of the proposed 2018 County budget. Many parents made calls of support on the spot at their child care programs, while others called from the convenience of their own homes. Council staff and board members attended and testified at the county budget hearings as well. In the end, the Budget Committee approved a $1.6 million child care add, which was part of the final budget adopted for 2018. Over a million of this increase is funding a rate increase for programs that contract with DSS – a welcome victory!
Because of the new County Executive’s interest in child care, the Council convened a special meeting for him with child care and after school leaders, along with members of the Council Board, staff and Business Advisory Council, on February 28th at the YWCA White Plains. Following a tour of the Y’s early childhood center, County Executive Latimer listened intently to the challenges and ideas offered by the audience and repeatedly expressed his desire to assist, along with members of his team. The audience left hopeful and energized. The Council will be developing a strategy to address the concerns and explore the recommendations that came from the discussion.
New York State
Governor Cuomo has proposed restoring the $7 million cut this year from child care – just $93 million shy of the $100 million “ask” by advocates, including the Child Care Council of Westchester.
Last year’s child care cut did trigger vigorous activity by the Women’s Legislative Caucus, which identified child care as a top priority. A new statewide coalition also formed, the Empire State Campaign for Child Care, with new and welcome partners. The Council has been very involved in this effort, as well as the related advocacy of Winning Beginning NY and our own state network of child care resource and referral agencies, coordinated by the Early Care and Learning Council.
New and sizeable child care investments are needed by New York State, in order to open up access and improve quality. We urge everyone to join the Empire State Campaign, simply click here: https://www.empirestatechildcare.org/
Child care subsidy got a huge boost in the budget bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in early February. It would deliver an additional $2.9 billion for child care for each of the next two years, actually doubling discretionary funding for child care. This add would fully fund the 2014 child care reauthorization which would improve the safety and quality of child care and increase access to this support. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) estimates that after funding the reauthorization costs, the funding would allow another 230,000 children across the nation to receive a child care subsidy. New York could receive almost $129 million more for child care over two years. Of course, this funding has to be part of a yet to be created appropriations bill. And this increase does not match up with the president’s proposed budget. So advocacy will be essential to convert this budget bill into real dollars coming to our state and others.
With child care costs burdening families all over the nation, this significant lift at the federal level is essential. Child Care Aware of America’s latest report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2017 documents that child care expense often exceeds housing costs. New York shows up in several undesirable “top ten” lists, weighing in as the sixth least affordable state for center-based child care for infants, and #1 for center-based care for four year olds. To see how the whole country is doing, and where New York stacks up, read the full report below: