Harckham and Mayer, Advocates Name for Elevated Youngster Care Help in State Funds

New York State Senators Pete Harckham and Shelley B. Mayer, as well as a number of supporters including Kathy Halas of Westchester’s Child Care Council, held a press conference yesterday calling for increased funding and support for childcare workers and working families in the state budget for next year.

Noting that childcare workers and working families in need of childcare have been hit by the pandemic, Harckham said, “It is time for New York to step up and do its part to help. The state has underfunded childcare for years. If we are serious about recovering the post-pandemic economy and fully reopening schools, we need to bring safe childcare for all New Yorkers within reach. “

The $ 485 million increase in government childcare assistance in the 2021-2022 budget, as recently requested by the New York Day Care Council, will benefit both parents and daycare, Harckham said. For parents, this would create more slots for children, limit co-payments and change the eligibility requirements for subsidies (for which two parents with a minimum wage no longer qualify).

And for day-care centers, the additional support will enable higher pay for the workforce and bring the fee level down to 75% of the market price (the current level of 69% does not cover costs) and pay care providers for part of the days that children are due to illness or Holidays absent (as the places cannot be filled at short notice).

“The lack of affordable, quality childcare affects an astonishing number of families in Westchester: one in five adults is out of work due to problems with Covid-19 childcare, including one in three women,” Mayer said. “We need to reduce the pressure on working parents, especially mothers, who cannot work without the security of affordable, quality childcare for their children. We need to increase childcare subsidies in the state budget for the year and ensure that the necessary federal funding is quickly distributed to local providers. Our post-pandemic economic recovery depends on a robust and thriving network of local providers. I am determined to work with Senator Pete Harckham and other colleagues to continue our fight for affordable, quality childcare across New York. ”

Both lawmakers said the $ 469 million federal incentive earmarked for childcare must go into the hands of childcare workers and parents in conjunction with each county’s subsidy system.

Around 100,000 children are cared for each month by the New York State state childcare grant system. But that number is down by 30% from 10 years ago. In Westchester it’s down 40%. The main reason is that many Westchester families – and families across the state – are exceeding the income limit ($ 52,300 gross) for subsidies.

Dawn Meyerski, director of the center, also spoke at the event, which took place here at the Mount Kisco Child Care Center. Westchester Legislature Kitley Covill; Howard Milbert, executive director of the Ossining Children’s Center; Adrienne Harper, owner of Jump for Joy Day Care in Peekskill; Cynthia Bolding, Mount Vernon Childcare Owner for Good Beginnings; and Polly Peace, director of the Country Childrens Center in Katonah.

Several parents with children who are now attending childcare facilities in Westchester also shared their experiences and the incredible stress of being stuck in jobs while dealing with unreliable childcare, as well as trying to manage tight household budgets that the Childcare costs are affected.

“It’s not that equitable access to quality childcare can solve every challenge we currently face, but many boxes are being ticked – parents are returning to work, employers have reliable workers, and children are social, cognitive and developing emotional, “said Halas. “Now with this budget, New York State has the opportunity to build the childcare system we need to get out of this Covid-19 hole and come back stronger.”

To watch a video of the press conference, click here.

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