Public Policy and Advocacy Update
Once again, child care is in the news - at every level of government.
County Executive Rob Astorino’s proposed 2017 budget maintained the child care subsidy specialist position at the Council and child care subsidy funding at 2016 budgeted levels. Actual subsidy spending in 2016 however, was expected to go $4 million over budget. The Council worked hard to increase subsidy dollars, publicizing and testifying at the budget hearings and launching an electronic letter-writing campaign. Thanks to the efforts of many in the child care and after school community, as well as Council staff and board members, the Westchester County Board of Legislators added $1 million to the subsidy program in a budget that was ultimately agreed to by the County Executive.
This was a solid outcome in what was the toughest budget year in recent memory – the 7th budget proposed with no tax increase. But additional child care funding is essential, not only to accommodate actual demand by working parents, but to cover an increase in the reimbursement rate for programs and providers coping with ever higher operating expenses, including a minimum wage hike.
New York State
Despite strong advocacy calling for a $190 million add in the 16-17 state budget to meet new and welcome federal child care requirements for health/safety, quality and "family friendly" policies, the Governor proposed only $10 million. Instead, NY opted to ask the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) for waivers to delay full implementation of the new regulations by three years.
ACF did not grant waivers for the health and safety requirements, so now NY is on the clock to be in compliance by October 30th, 2017. ACF will also be closely monitoring NY’s progress on all the new federal requirements as a condition of on-going federal funding.
As a member of Winning Beginning NY, the Council asks Governor Cuomo to step up funding for young children in his 17-18 budget:
•Child care: maintain current slots for 92,000 children now receiving a subsidy; invest $56 million for criminal background checks and training; increase child care access for homeless children; ensure funding is adequate for minimum wage increases and reimbursement at the 75th percentile and create an Early Childhood Learning Fund to increase child care subsidy participation
•Home visiting: increase the existing $11.5 million by $26.8 million
•Early intervention: start to restore reimbursement rates with a 5% increase
•Pre-K: maintain current funding and add at least $150 million to expand the program outside of NYC; move toward a sustainable financing strategy; include adequate investment in K-12 school aid
•Expanded learning: fund Advantage Afterschool at $32.8 million so that 20,000 students can be served
•Workforce: create a state task force to evaluate the impact of the minimum wage increases on industry salaries
Let Governor Cuomo know you want to see more child care funding in his 17-18 budget. It only takes a couple of minutes. Visit the Council's Advocacy Take Action Center now.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the major federal program for child care assistance so low-income families can work or obtain education and training to improve their economic self-sufficiency. CCDBG was reauthorized in 2014 with overwhelming bi-partisan support and an acknowledgement that new funding was necessary to actually meet the goals of the CCDBG Act, with its new emphasis on child care quality and family-friendly eligibility policies.
President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget reflected his continued efforts to significantly increase investments in child care and early education; he proposed increases to child care, Head Start, Early Head Start and Preschool Development Grants as well as an expansion of the Child and Development Tax Credit.
Unfortunately, Congress never adopted a new budget for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), opting instead to pass two Continuing Resolutions (CR) or temporary spending bills. The latest CR was passed on December 12th and keeps the federal government open through April 28, 2017.
According to the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), the newly elected Congress will take up the spending bill for the rest of FY17 along with a budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The current CR includes a .19 percent across the board cut. The number of children receiving child care funded through the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant has already fallen to a 16 year low. Without new funding, more children will lose out.
Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2016 issued by Child Care Aware of America, Inc., the Council’s national association, documents that child care expense often exceeds housing costs. All over the U.S. parents are struggling to pay for child care. Unaffordable child care also negatively impacts the business community.
Read the new report by the Economic Policy Institute documents that child care is beyond the reach of many low-wage earners.