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Government Child Care Policy: Good News and Bad News

Shawn Cribari - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The good news is that child care has been recognized by the federal government as having an important part to play in children's intellectual and social development.As a result, the federal law that governs child care and provides child care funding to states was reauthorized in 2014 for the first time since 1996.  The reauthorization instituted new regulations that emphasize the promotion of children's healthy development and school success. In the past, the law had emphasized child care as a service to parents who are working or in job training.

The bad news is that no federal funding has been allocated to implement the new child care regulations. This leaves states with unfunded mandates.

Children's advocates have rejoiced at the affirmation of the educational value of high quality child care. But with no federal funding attached to the new regulations, the intent of the law will be thwarted.

Yes, all children should have access to high-quality child care. But quality costs. Federal and state governments must make new investments in quality and in preserving continued access for low-income parents and their children.

New York child care experts estimate that the additional cost to meet the new requirements will be $190 million initially, with annual costs after that.  Unfortunately, both the federal funding appropriated and the Governor's 2016-2017 Executive Budget fall far short.

At present, the Governor has added only 10 million in new funding to implement the new federal guidelines. New York must meet the new requirements and pay for them.  If there isn't sufficient new funding, in all likelihood the funds will be cannibalized from -

  • Child Care Subsidies: by eliminating 21,000 low income children statewide from the child care subsidy program. As it is, only 22% of eligible children receive subsidies.
  • Payments to programs that accept subsidized children: by reducing the reimbursement amount to programs for children receiving subsidies. As it is, child care providers are currently paid only 69% of the market rate.
  • Child Care Provides and Programs; by passing costs on to 12,500 small child care centers and low wage providers.

If you would like to help make sure high quality child care is available to the low income children who need it, please urge the Governor to add the needed $190 million for child care to his budget.Call his office at 1-518-474-8390.When prompted, press 3 to speak with an assistant.

Thank you. If enough of us call, our efforts will be effective.

Howard Milbert,
Executive Director, Ossining Children’s Center
Co-President, Westchester Early Childhood Directors Association
Co-Chair, NY State Association of Directors of Not for Profit Child Day Care Centers