Public Policy and Advocacy Update
As many businesses continue to struggle finding employees, problems finding and/or paying for child care remains a key factor.
In its May Policy Symposium, Child Care Aware of America featured Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, who stated "Improving our care infastructure for all working families - to take advantage of the promise of America - is within our grasp. We just need to commit to it. Together." She referenced her own journey to the top of the corporate world as having only been possible because she was able to care for her children and her parents. She acknowledged that such options still do not exist for too many parents in the U.S., especially women.
NEW YORK STATE
Significant progress was made in the 22-23 NYS budget, with income eligibility for the low income child care subsidy, now known as child care assistance, rising from 200% of income over the poverty level, to 300%. The market rate framework for child care assistance reimbursement rates also increased from 69% to 80%, providing a needed boost to the child care sector’s financial viability. Happily, programmatic eligibility was also expanded: the minimum work requirement was reduced to 10 hours per week, and the job search period was increased.
New PreK slots were created with $125 million of funding with $25 million specified for full-day slots for 4 year olds at $10k each. The remaining funding was available to school districts to increase their 4 year old slot capacity at their existing rates.
In its 2023 budget, Westchester County once again signaled its understanding that access to safe, affordable, quality child care is essential for strong families and vibrant communities, by continuing the Westchester Works Child Care Scholarship Program in 2023. Families eligible for child care financial assistance saw their fees decreased as well, with the parent share reduced from 10% to 5% of income over the federal poverty level. Child care businesses typically run on a shoestring, and the county bolstered the financial stability of Westchester’s by supporting the workforce with increased reimbursements for professional development and holidays.
The failure thus far to see the level of new federal investment in child care promised by the Build Back Better Bill remains concerning. The pandemic funding kept the child care industry from collapsing altogether, but it did not fix the gaps and fragmentation which existed before, and continue today. An increase of $6 billion in the Child Care and Development Block Grant is needed to build the strong, accessible child care infrastructure the U.S. economy needs.
WE NEED YOU TO BUILD THE CHILD CARE SYSTEM WE NEED!
We made the case last year for more child care investment using new data, which helped us better understand how many Westchester working parents were burdened by unaffordable child care costs. Please read the report compiled for us by consultant Grace Reef, Access to Child Care: The Key to Economic Recovery in Westchester. The report spelled out that there were 114,564 children under 13 years in Westchester whose parents work, and a whopping 45,007 or 39% of them were in families with incomes under 400% FPL - meaning that they did not earn enough to meet their basic needs, including child care. This number includes 26,483 children under age 6. It's a must read.
To view Access to Child Care: The Key to Economic Recovery in Westchester Click here
To remind you of where the NYS child care system needs to go, re-read the Child Care Availability Task Force Report, issued in Spring 2021. To view the Task Force Report Click here
You can also take another look at Sen. Jabari Brisport's report on his child care listening tour last year or his bill, the "Universal Child Care Act." You can view both here.
If you are not a member of the Empire State Campaign for Child Care (ESCCC), an increasingly robust and vocal group of child care advocates, parents, and early childhood professionals, etc., sign up today. The Council has been an active participant in the Campaign since its inception and we urge everyone to get involved.
keeping up with child care in the news
It is almost impossible to track all the research, reports and opinion pieces on child care and early learning these days. Click here to view the latest resources.