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Invest in Early Care and Education

More than ever, the benefits of high-quality early childhood education are needed for young children. In addition to the vital role it plays in child development, early care and education is also crucial to economic recovery and supporting working families. Over 325,000 New York children have been pushed into or near poverty due to the economic downturn, and the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on caregiving arrangements, forcing many parents and particularly women out of the workforce.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, 1 in 5 NY adults aged 25 to 44 – including 1 in 4 women – report child care responsibilities as the primary reason for being out of work. To keep caregivers in the workforce or to help them return to the workforce, as well as to provide developmental support for children, we must focus on ensuring that child care is and continues to be high-quality and accessible for New York’s children and families.

Even before the pandemic, parents with young children have struggled to access affordable childcare. Our recent analysis, Child and Family Well-being in New York State showed that 33 New York counties have fewer than 50% of three and four-year-olds enrolled in early education programs. It is critical that investments in child care subsidies and pre-kindergarten increase and promote school readiness as well as facilitate parents’ reentry into the workforce.

Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 includes $40 million to lower some family co-pays. But given the needs that exist statewide, New York has a unique opportunity to make building-block investments and long-term structural changes to its child care system. New York is set to receive approximately $469 million dollars from the December 2020 federal stimulus act, and that money can and should be used to dramatically expand access to child care and child care subsidies across the state.

CCC, along with its partners in the Empire State Campaign for Child Care, urge the legislature to use the federal funds and raise state revenue as necessary, to do the following:

  • Invest $370 million to increase subsidy eligibility, lower family copays, pay providers based on enrollment, and prioritize families with the greatest need; and
  • Create a separate $100 million workforce compensation fund to raise wages for early childhood educators.

Additionally, CCC urges the legislature to ensure all children are ready for school and young children with special needs get the services they deserve by doing the following:

  • Invest $770 million to finally implement full-day universal Pre-K across New York State, where 77,000 four-year-olds outside NYC are currently without access to Pre-K;
  • Increase reimbursement rates by at least 10% for preschool special education programs; and
  • Develop a new rate-setting methodology to better reflect the costs of preschool special education services and guarantee equity in annual funding increases between public schools and preschool special education programs.

Join us in calling on State leaders to expand access to high-quality and affordable early education.

 

 

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