Noting that access to affordable, quality child care remains one of the largest obstacles to self-sufficiency for New York's working families, Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that he is reconvening the Assembly Child Care Workgroup.
"The Assembly has made a commitment to address the child care crisis facing New York's working families, particularly working mothers. The members of the Child Care Workgroup were successful in securing additional funding and greater access to child care as part of the 2014-15 state budget. But despite our efforts, there is more work to do," said Heastie. "One of the most pressing issues facing constituents today are the obstacles to finding and keeping meaningful employment due to the lack of consistent and affordable child care options."
The following Assemblymembers will participate in the workgroup:
The Workgroup was first convened in 2013 to look at challenges working families, and in particular women, face in obtaining the child care they need. When a parent loses or cannot afford child care, they are more likely to leave the workplace to care for their children or resort to less than adequate child care. Women who have stable child care are more likely to maintain employment and achieve self-sufficiency. The lack of affordable, accessible, stable and safe child care as well as paid family leave are major obstacles to women in the workforce, the effects of which impact not only women but children, families, businesses and the overall economy. According to the National Institutes of Health, every dollar spent on early education for children from low income families generates $4 to $11 in economic benefits over the child's lifetime.
The Assembly's Child Care Workgroup conducted extensive research, roundtables and discussions with parents, child care professionals and advocates.
As a result, the Assembly was successful in securing more than $41 million to increase access to subsidized child care for working families. The budget agreement dedicated an additional $34 million for child care subsidies to support an increase of more than 4,500 child care slots available statewide. The agreement restored nearly $7.3 million to the state's Facilitated Enrollment program to provide working families with incomes up to 275% of the federal poverty level with access to affordable child care. It also made programmatic enhancements to the child care system by requiring local social services districts to disregard the income of teens under the age of 18 for the purposes of determining a household's eligibility for child care subsidies. This aligned the child care eligibility standards with programs such as public assistance, SNAP and HEAP.
The following initiatives identified by the Workgroup were passed into law during 2014:
Assemblywoman Nolan said "The success of universal prekindergarten has provided concrete proof that our children need a strong, healthy start in life. One of the most progressive investments we can make to boost the economic and social viability of our communities is to guarantee access to quality, affordable child care. We must provide families with paid family leave so workers will not be penalized for being caregivers when their loved ones need them the most."
Assemblywoman Russell said "Access to affordable, quality child care gives parents the opportunity to work to provide for their families without worry. This group will continue to work on behalf of New York's families and find the sustainable solutions they need."
Assemblywoman Lupardo said "Decades of research have demonstrated the social, academic and economic gains that result from increased investment in high quality early childhood education programs. It is the goal of this workgroup to develop programs that will help all of New York's children to get the positive start they deserve."
Assemblyman Hevesi, said "Children are the future of our great state. Every possible measure should be taken to ensure their safety, especially in a child care setting. It is essential that safe, affordable child care be made accessible for all families."
Assemblywoman Titus said "Ensuring access to safe and affordable child care is an issue that must be addressed in order for New York to remain at the forefront of progressive reforms that support working families. It has an indisputable impact on the workforce and our ability to attract and keep the best and brightest talent right here in our state. The efforts of this work group will go a long way to ensure that workers will no longer have to gamble with the well-being of their children."
Assemblywoman Gunther said "Child care is an issue that affects working parents all across this state, especially parents of children with special needs for whom there are even fewer options. We cannot afford to delay investment in solutions that will bring meaningful benefits to families. I am committed to continue working alongside my colleagues to deliver real assistance to those who need it most."
Assemblywoman Simotas said "For too many parents across this state, the paths to educational and professional advancement are blocked by fears for how their children will be cared for. Women are disproportionately affected by this and research has shown that lack of child care is a key reason why the wage gap continues to grow and why we have not been able to shatter the glass ceiling. This work group will provide another tool in our efforts to achieve equality in New York State."