The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the closure of childcare sites across the state and sparked a wave of departures of staff members, who have complained of low pay and fears of contracting the coronavirus from children not vaccinated.
Hochul’s new federal money portal is expected to offer $23,000 in grants to each of the state’s 15,000 eligible child care companies for better wages and benefits.
Adams’ spending plan could open thousands of child care spaces across the city through employer-sponsored tax incentives, accelerated bond payments and tax credits to developers for building new daycares.
“Child care centers and home-based programs have really been stretched to breaking point due to gradual closures, increased expenses due to Covid-19 and families who simply cannot afford child care. children,” said Jessica Sager, co-founder and CEO of All Our Kin, a home child care organization. “We desperately need investment.”
Relatives increasingly had to fill the void left by deceased industrial workers. Women’s participation in the workplace hit a 33-year low last year, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Sager said the average hourly wage for child care workers is $13.22 across the country. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that child care workers in New York averaged $15.89 per hour, or less than $35,000 per year.
“What people need to understand is that the sector has suffered disproportionately during the pandemic,” said Jennifer March, executive director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children, a privately funded advocacy organization. “We know from census data following the economic fallout from the pandemic that in income levels below $50,000 [per year]women – and especially women of color – have been pushed out of the workforce.
Federal funds are intended for retention and recruitment of the workforce. At least 75% of grants must be spent on bonuses and salary increases, contributions to health plans or retirement accounts, or education expenses and tuition reimbursement.
The federal stabilization fund follows Hochul’s April 2022 budget agreement, which committed $7 billion in public funds over four years to the child care sector. The budget deal doubled child care subsidies and includes the following investments:
• Increase the income eligibility threshold for child care subsidies to 300% of the federal poverty level (or $83,250 for a family of four).
• Spend more on reimbursements to child care companies and nonprofits.
• $15.6 million to ensure that every CUNY or SUNY campus has a child care facility.
• $13.5 million to provide education and child care for eligible children of agricultural workers.
“There were a bunch of positives in the state budget,” March said, but “the legislature had a much more ambitious plan closer to universality, so I think there’s still work to be done. to do”.
A key measure that advocates are targeting is increasing children’s enrollment in child care assistance programs. The number of children receiving subsidized care outside of New York has fallen from more than 50,000 per month in 2012 to less than 27,000 per month last year, according to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
“It’s really hard for families to pay for care,” Sager said.
Adams released a 38-page child care plan. The city estimates that there are more than 500,000 children under age 5 in New York City.
Adams prioritized improving access to the city’s child care system.
Highlights of Adams’ plan include:
• Accelerating access to vouchers by removing the Children’s Services Administration voucher waiting list by September.
• Provide childcare vouchers to 17 disadvantaged neighborhoods. The administration estimates that this will affect more than 11,000 eligible children.
• Investing $10 million to subsidize childcare for undocumented workers.
• Spending $25 million annually in property tax reductions for building owners who convert their properties into child care centres.
• Spending $25 million annually on a new corporate income tax credit for employers who provide child care services. The administration estimates that employer exclusions could create 6,000 new child care seats.
“Getting people through the system faster and including undocumented immigrants – these are very good policies,” said Charles Khan, organizing director of Strong Economy for All, a coalition of labor and community groups. “These policies bring us to a gold standard that makes our system worthwhile.”
Advocates, including Fuchs, argue that Adams’ focus on strengthening the voucher system is key to helping families pay for child care.
His Columbia team conducted a survey last year of 1,057 urban families with children and found that 32% of families had difficulty paying childcare costs and 36% had difficulty finding care. . About 60% of people surveyed in the Bronx couldn’t find child care when they needed it, according to SIPA data.
“It’s become increasingly unaffordable for the general population, especially in the Bronx, black and Hispanic populations,” Fuchs said. “In reality, [child care] has contributed to the inability of low-income families to return to work and has also contributed to food insecurity and the inability to pay bills.
Adams’ plan also includes allowing eligible families to receive child care subsidies for 24 months, instead of 12 months, and removing the $15 hourly minimum wage for up to 10,000 families. eligible to access childcare vouchers.
But he will need the help of the legislature to get both policies in place and running.
“There are a whole series of legislative initiatives designed to help people access subsidies and maintain subsidies, and that’s positive,” March said. “But we will need state action on this in the next session.”