The yearly cost for child care in New York State averages
just under $12,000. But in Rockland County the tab amounts to $12,000 and even
up to $13,000 for an infant. Those high figures brought together three state
senators who unveiled a proposal for day care subsidies for working families.
Senators Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) and Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) joined Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) at Rockland Community College’s childcare center on Wednesday to announce an initiative to provide $182 million in funding and grants to make child care more affordable.
The three senators, members of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), detailed their 2014 legislative agenda called “Affordable New York.” They proposed restoration of $82 million to the state’s child care block grant program, which has seen its funding reduced over the years. They are also pushing for $100 million to expand the state’s Facilitated Enrollment Child Care program, which currently does not include Rockland County.
Klein said subsidizing child care should be viewed as economic development because it enables people to go into or stay in the workforce.
“We need to invest in child care,” he said. “We need to invest in our families.”
Carlucci, who brought his five-and a-half-month-old son, Jack Hudson, with him, said parents should not be forced to give up their jobs because they cannot afford child care. Carlucci said his son is going to child care and reaps the benefits of being around other children and being cared for by professionals.
Savino, a former New York City caseworker, said dependable child care helps stabilize families and should not viewed as a social service but as an economic priority.
“We need not to just restore the cuts in facilitated enrollment, we need to expand it,” said Savino.
Rockland Child Care Resources Executive Director Jane Brown said “We need to step up and put children first.”
She said funding needs to be increased because most development occurs early on.
“Between 80 and 90 percent of the brain develops in the first year of life,” said Brown, adding, “The least amount of money is spent in the most critical time of human life.”
She said daycare slots are open in the county at licensed home and center based facilities because of the economic downturn. Brown noted there have been increases in unlicensed child care providers who charge lower rates for infant care and less than the average $10,000 annual cost for a preschooler.
Two single mothers each with three children spoke of their struggles to be able to work and pay for childcare. One talked about how she earned too much to qualify for subsidies and had to quit her job. Savino said facilitated enrollment subsidies would help fill the gap experienced by them and other parents.
“You heard from more than one of the women here today who talked about how when they were at the worst economic position in their life they were eligible for child care,” Savino said, "When they managed to crawl their way out of it then they’re not eligible. And there’s no sliding scale on childcare subsidies. So remember women on welfare are guaranteed a subsidized childcare slot.”
According to materials prepared by the IDC, a single parent with one preschooler and one school age child in Rockland in 2010 earning $68,357 annually would be self sufficient but would spend 54 percent of their income on child care and housing costs. In Westchester, the numbers are also high. A single parent raising a preschooler and one school age child in 2010 would need to earn $71,533 to be self sufficient and would spend 53 percent of their income on child care and housing expenses.
Carlucci said, “By investing in children early that’ll pay dividends in the long run.”
Editor's Note: Hear Senator Carlucci speak about lost opportunities here.