Assemblymembers Mayer, Jaffee Organize Roundtable Discussions: Access to Quality, Affordable Child Care

October 5, 2017

In an ongoing effort to address the child care crisis in NY State, Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Children and Families and Assemblymember Shelley Mayer, Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women's Issues, co-organized two roundtable discussions, one in New York City and another in Albany to investigate child care quality, affordability and accessibility as well as the impact of childcare access on family stability, the labor force, and the economy.

The roundtable discussions on September 25 and September 27 followed a May 23, 2017 joint public hearing in Albany, held by Assemblymember Jaffee and Senator Tony Avella, Chair of the Senate Committee on Children and Families, to discuss child care issues, in particular the lack of funding, accessibility and quality.

Two-thirds of all families in New York State are headed by parents in the workforce and most work full-time by the time their children are three. Although research suggests that safe, reliable, high-quality child care promotes positive child development and is critical to a family's ability to maintain employment and remain self-sufficient many working families across the state are unable to secure such care.

"Without child care, parents cannot pursue their education, move themselves out of poverty, or remain in the workforce contributing to the economy and improving their quality of life. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Children and Families, a top priority is ensuring that every hardworking family has access to safe, high-quality, affordable child care," said Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern). "The roundtable discussions are a valuable opportunity to identify the obstacles that prevent families from accessing child care, as well as the challenges providers and caregivers face, and moving forward they should serve as a guide to child care policy. I am energized to continue working with my colleagues, the stakeholders and advocates for a substantial increase in funding and resources."

"Reliable, quality, affordable child care is one of the most pressing issues facing New York families today. As the Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women's Issues, I have fought and will continue to fight to expand access, improve quality, expand caregivers' access to professional development, and help providers maintain a quality workforce in the face of low wages," said Assemblymember Shelley B. Mayer (D-Yonkers). "There is more we can and must do to learn about the challenges and successes our local child care providers, parents and advocates are facing. We must use their knowledge and experiences to inform our work. As we move towards the start of the legislative session, I look forward to working with my colleagues to secure increased funding and develop creative paths to increase access to professional development."

The response from advocates and stakeholders to both the public hearing and the recent roundtables underscores the critical importance of maintaining an ongoing dialogue in communities throughout the State.

Assemblywoman Mayer will be holding a local roundtable on Thursday, October 26th from 4-6 pm at Riverfront Library in Yonkers.

Assemblywoman Jaffee will hold a district roundtable on Monday, November 13th from 10am to12pm in the Student Meeting Room at Rockland Community College.

Committee and Task Force members will also be hosting additional roundtables in their districts throughout the state. Dates and locations will be forthcoming.

Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said, "As Chair of the Senate's Children and Families Committee, I am committed to ensuring that every child, whether at the beginning of their education or at the end of their college tenure, has access to the highest quality education this state has to offer. Our state should be committed to providing every child the opportunity to succeed through education as well as providing families an opportunity to grow and flourish in our communities. I thank the Assembly Members for hosting these roundtables and look forward to hearing the feedback offered by communities throughout the state."

"Investments in quality, early childhood learning are essential for New York State's continued economic recovery," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D- Binghamton). "By investing in New York's childcare system, we're providing children with the tools needed to be successful in life and parents with the peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe setting. This was a top priority during my time as Chair of the Committee on Children and Families and Chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus; I'm pleased to see Assemblywoman Jaffee and Assemblywoman Mayer continuing to focus on this important work."

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy (D-Albany) said, "Accessible and affordable childcare has been at the forefront of issues facing women and families in New York for decades. While we've made strides in expanding access to childcare for New York families, there is much work to be done. I support the expansion of childcare services - including afterschool services - as a top priority for the Assembly next year. I welcome these roundtables with my colleagues as we develop proposals of how to best address childcare issues in New York."

"As a mother and grandmother, affordable childcare has always been personal to me. Participating in the Albany roundtable discussion only reinforced this commitment," Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Forestburgh) said. "Access to affordable childcare is so important for working families, and we need to do everything we can to ensure that it's available to everyone."

Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn) said, "The women in the New York State Legislature have long been concerned about the paucity of child care options available in our state. Quality, reliable child care allows families to participate and grow in the workforce and pursue educational opportunities. The roundtable hosted by Assembly Members Ellen Jaffee and Shelly Mayer were extremely informative and highlighted the day to day intricacies of providing child care and complexities of the budget process. The world of work has changed, but the state's budget programming has not kept pace. We need to work together to ensure that all families, regardless of income or geography, have access to reputable and affordable child care."

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, (D-Astoria) said, "It's an honor to be a part of this effort which is finding solutions to a problem that actually touches all of us in one way or another. Access to affordable, reliable child care is essential for the financial and emotional well-being of working families, which in turn helps keep our communities vibrant and our economy strong. Part of the solution is also recognizing that child care providers are essential small businesses and may need our help to thrive."

"Research has shown time and time again, that the early years in a child's life are most critical for mental development. As a parent, I know firsthand that children with access to quality childcare do better with math, language, and social skills" said Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway.) "When a child has access to a safe, loving, and stimulating environment, you don't have to worry while you are at work. Access to quality childcare will ensure that your child will get a fair start in life to grow up as strong, constructive adults. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure adequate funding for this program."

Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, (D-Northern Manhattan) said, "Childcare is critical to ensure that our communities can fully participate in the workforce. Affordability and quality are what under-served families mostly lack when searching for childcare options. We must realize that when childcare is not available, it has a domino-effect on our working families that immediately impact their economy, professional studies, and equally important their forthcoming progress. These related issues are rooted on scarce childcare accessibility for which the need for adequate funding is indispensable."

"I'm a mom, so I've dealt with childcare issues," said Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach.) "I'm also an Early Learning Fellow with the National Conference on State Legislatures, so I'm very invested in making sure New York gets childcare right. It was rewarding and helpful to see where we're at as a state and to brainstorm where we need to go. I love the roundtable format of getting policy off the ground. It prioritizes community input. That way, by the time we get to the state level, everyone's been heard and we're all bought in. I want to thank Chairwoman Jaffee and Chairwoman Meyer, and the Assembly Leadership, both for prioritizing this vital issue and for bringing it back to our communities. We'll be holding our own forum on November 10th for South Queens!"

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Lindenhurst) said, "Parents should not have to choose between joining in the workforce or caring for their children. Expanding access to child care services for our poor and working-class families is essential to the growth of our economy and the cognitive development of New York's most cherished asset, our children. The dialogue from these roundtable discussions is vital to developing the tools to fulfill this critical need."

Assemblymember Addie A.E. Jenne (D-Theresa) said, "The needs of our families can differ greatly when it comes to childcare. The discussions we are having are valuable so we can work to achieve the flexibility our families need and look at challenges like transportation and the impact of other programs that serve families and their children have on the industry. Childcare does not happen in a vacuum, and it can be critical to the economic vitality of an entire region. Appropriate childcare enables families to be productive at work, which is why it is at the forefront of our work."