Don’t Wait On Washington

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March 4, 2022

Don’t Wait On Washington: State, City Lawmakers, Anti-Poverty Groups, Labor Unions, Civic And Religious Leaders Call On Albany To Tackle Surging Child Poverty Rates & Dire Need For Quality Child Care In New York State

Policy Recommendations Would Lift More than 100,000 New Yorkers Out of Poverty, Raise Incomes for 1.2 million People Statewide, and Help Over 76,000 Parents Find Work

Bronx, NY, March 4, 2022 – With more than 137,000 children living in poverty, some of the highest maternal mortality rates, and the largest job losses per capita in the country, Bronx County has been the epicenter of the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal aid to help families has run out with the expiration of extended unemployment insurance, the child tax credit monthly payments, and eviction moratoriums, driving families deeper into poverty and facing higher levels of food insecurity, housing instability, and health hardships.

State and City leaders, joined by anti-poverty and child welfare advocacy groups, labor unions, and religious leaders, called on Governor Kathy Hochul and State leaders to step into the breach for families across New York State by:

  • Investing substantially to build a high-quality, equitable, affordable, and universal child care system that meets the needs of all children and families and includes strong support for workers and providers.
  • Strengthening the Empire State Child Tax Credit by making it more valuable and inclusive for the lowest-income families. The current Empire State Child Tax Credit excludes more than 1.4 million children statewide from receiving the full refundable credit because they are either too young or live in families that are too poor to currently qualify.
  • Guaranteeing continuous health insurance coverage for babies age 0 to three years and postpartum women for one year, regardless of immigration status.

Expanding the number of families eligible for child care subsidies and increasing the pay of child care workers, of which 15% live below the poverty line, would lift 84,000 New Yorkers from poverty, allow 76,000 single parents or secondary earners to re-enter the workforce, increase incomes for 1.2 million families, and reduce the child poverty rate for babies and toddlers by 12%, based on an economic analysis by Robin Hood and Columbia University’s Center on Poverty & Social Policy.

On Wednesday, Robin Hood released the findings of a statewide poll that found 62% of New Yorkers favor making more families eligible for child care subsidies through the state budget. The poll found strong support for increasing the state’s investment in child care across all political parties and regions of the state.

Beyond investing in child care, New York State’s Empire State Child Tax Credit currently leaves out 40% of children in families with incomes below $110,000 because they are either low income or under age four. Put simply, the children who would benefit the most from the full credit – younger children and children in families with lower incomes– are not eligible for it.

Making the Empire child credit available to families with babies/toddlers (age 0-3 years) and raising the credit amount for young children (age 0-3) to $1,000 per year; increasing the credit amount for currently covered older children (4 to 16) to $500 per year; and making the full credit available to the lowest-income families would move nearly 30,000 children in New York State out of poverty.

“One of the ways we can successfully fight childhood poverty in The Bronx is to ensure healthcare coverage for Medicaid eligible children. I am proud to be the sponsor of a bill that will allow these children to remain eligible for Medicaid coverage for the first three years of their lives. Given the importance of this critical developmental period, this measure will keep children up to date with all their medical visits and give parents peace of mind. I look forward to working with CDF-NY and city and state partners to put an end to this crisis,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee.

“The Bronx was experiencing some of the highest rates of child poverty even before the pandemic, now families are facing impossible choices as they must balance childcare costs against basic needs. As the pandemic laid bare, the economic and social burden of disinvestment falls most heavily on those least able to afford it. Too often, working parents and disproportionately women are shut out of the workforce and pathways to economic mobility due to a lack of affordable, quality, accessible childcare. Now more than ever, we must invest in an equitable recovery for New York that will center the urgent needs of our children and families and build a brighter future for generations to come,” said State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey.

“As the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty was further exposed in the Bronx. This was especially among children, as many families lost their jobs causing them to struggle financially. We cannot allow child poverty to continue. It is imperative that our state invests in the lives and well-being of our children because no child should ever go to bed hungry,” said Assemblymember Kenny Burgos (Bronx).

“We need to talk about poverty reduction in real terms and legislate on it from all sides. The Early Learning Child Care Act expands eligibility for child care subsidies regardless of immigration status or employment. It has the potential to lift 84,000 families out of poverty, including a 12% reduction in child poverty. We can increase income for over 1.2 million families while providing children a safe, stable, and nurturing environments where they can grow and develop. Passing this widely popular legislation makes good on the first step of the Child Poverty Reduction Act I passed last year. No platitudes, no half-measures – we eradicate child poverty by passing legislation that focuses on parent’s’ spending power, invests in children, and lifts from the point of our most vulnerable,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos (Queens), chair of the Labor Committee.

“Ending child poverty and supporting our families needs to be a priority in everything that we do. Many
of our families are still reeling from the devastating financial and emotional impact COVID-19 had on our
state and are in need of immediate support. I join with my colleagues in the State Legislature, Robin
Hood, Children’s Defense Fund, Schuyler Center, Citizens Campaign for Children, FPWA, 1199 SEIU, and
Black Church for Justice and Equality in calling for a universal child care system that addresses the
holistic needs of our children and families in New York,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L.

“Working-class New York families are drowning — Albany cannot leave them to hold their breath hoping for a miracle from the federal government. In one of the wealthiest places on earth, with record-breaking corporate profits and last year’s higher-than-predicted state revenue, New York is perfectly capable of funding the programs and infrastructure our families need to survive and thrive,” said State Senator Jabari Brisport (Brooklyn), Chair of the Committee on Children and Families.

“We know that New Yorkers not only want, but deserve affordable, high quality child care. Now is the time to make that a reality. I am proud to stand alongside so many partners in the legislature, child care providers, advocacy organizations, and impacted families to bring this goal to fruition. Child care is economic development and it is beyond time we start treating it as such by truly valuing this incredible workforce with wage increases, immediately bridging the gap to pay for enrollment by funding providers at the 90th percentile, expanding subsidies, and capping costs to families,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Children and Families Committee.

“One in five New York children live in poverty, with our State’s Black and Latinx children more than twice as likely to live in poverty than their white peers.  The Bronx bears a particularly high child poverty burden, with parts of the borough carrying the highest child poverty rates nationwide.  In a State and a Nation as affluent as ours, this represents an utter moral failure. Our State can and must take urgent action to center the needs of our most marginalized children and youth as well as those of their families and communities.  By investing to build a universal child care system, strengthening and expanding the Empire State Child Tax Credit, guaranteeing continuous health insurance coverage for children through age three and postpartum women for one year regardless of their immigration status, we can lift more than 100,000 New Yorkers out of poverty and build a State that is truly worthy of our children.  All that New York needs is the political will to prioritize the youngest New Yorkers,” said Kercena A. Dozier, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund – New York.

“No child can be healthy if their family is severely stressed by poverty. Children’s health is a multidimensional issue. New York needs to invest in its children now. Priority investments include, expansion of the State’s Child Tax Credit to include all children birth to 18, continuous coverage in Medicaid for children 0-3, and expansion of accessible, affordable and high quality child care so that all families have developmentally appropriate child care available where and when they need it,” said Dr. Warren Seigel, Chair of the NYS American Academy of Pediatrics.

“It is crucial that as state leaders finalize this year’s budget, they make significant investments into reducing poverty among New York’s youngest residents, particularly in underserved communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. New York’s children need our full support so that they can not only survive, but thrive, in a change world. The time to support families and New York’s youngest residents is now,” said Dia Bryant, Executive Director of the Education Trust – NY.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on families with a disproportionate impact low income households and women of color.  The evidence is clear that lifting incomes through child tax credits and ensuring access to quality child care and post-partum supports result in a wide array of positive outcomes. Among them, improved health outcomes for parents and children, reaching critical early development milestones for young children, and increased economic well-being for women and children. We thank the legislative champions of these critical proposals and call upon the Senate, Assembly and the Governor to ensure they are included in the SFY’23 adopted budget,” said Jennifer March, Phd, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York.

“Improving access to quality, affordable childcare for low-income families is probably the best investment that the state can undertake. It pays for itself multiple times over- from allowing more women to work or attend school, to improving children’s health and long-term outcomes. Research shows that the earliest years are the most crucial, and expanding the Empire State Child Tax Credit to families with very young children would have strong and long-lasting impact on these families. At the same time, to ensure that the children of our state continue to receive the best care possible, we need to increase the wages for childcare workers. We are at a singular moment in time as we finally put the pandemic and the economic blow it dealt, behind us. Let us use this moment to define a new future for the children and for the families of our state”, said David R. Jones, President and CEO of Community Service Society of New York.

“For 150 years, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy has been dedicated to advancing policies that strengthen New York families. The pandemic underscored that years of underfunding essential supports for New York families have left them terribly vulnerable to crises.  Even as the pandemic recedes, New York parents and their children are still reeling from two years of juggling caregiving with remote school and cancelled child care; youth are struggling with unprecedented levels of mental health challenges. However, 2022 is a moment of opportunity for New York. We have to invest in families and communities – with intention. In January, New York took the historic step of committing, in legislation (the Child Poverty Reduction Act), to cutting child poverty in half across the state in the next ten years. At the same time, the state’s financial position is strong.  It is time for New York to take large steps in this year’s 2022-2023 state budget to advance – and robustly fund– three strategies proven to cut child poverty and set children up to thrive: take large steps toward universal child care; expand the Empire State Child Tax Credit to cover New York’s youngest and poorest children; and implement continuous health coverage for children ages 0 to 3 and postpartum women, including immigrant women,” said Kate Breslin, President and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.

“The fact that nearly 1 out of every 2 Rochester children live in poverty – like the Bronx, one of the worst rates in our country – is not destiny. But too often, poverty acts like a life sentence for children born to it — sentencing children to lifelong struggles in their health, education, and overall quality of life.  For a growing child, science has shown that poverty’s deprivation and stress can become a kind of neurotoxin in the brain, limiting a child’s future. The difference between those futures and the future we all wish to see for our own children is a difference of public policy.   We knows what works.  All that’s been missing up to this point is the political will to make it happen,” said Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda.

“Too many New Yorkers struggle to find affordable, quality child care, and the pandemic has only made this crisis worse. New Yorkers of all backgrounds overwhelmingly support expanding the state’s investment in child care because they understand parents can’t work, children can’t learn, and child care workers can’t survive unless something changes. Increasing New York’s investment in child care is a win-win for Albany — it’s the right thing to do and enjoys broad support across the state. As lawmakers and the Governor work toward a budget, our poll makes clear that New Yorkers want increased investments in child care now,” said Richard R. Buery, Jr., CEO of Robin Hood.

“It’s time to make our youngest children a priority and do all we can to lift families out of poverty. Child care in NYS has long been under-valued and under-funded. We need to help hard-working families by expanding eligibility for child care subsidies while supporting workers and providers. Now is the time to ensure a healthy and stable start to life for all children with continuous health insurance coverage for babies 0 to 3 and all postpartum women, in addition to a strengthened Empire State Child Tax Credit that includes children under 3 and the lowest-income families,” said Allison Lake, Executive Director, Westchester Children’s Association.

“Educational Alliance has spent the past year helping New Yorkers access the critical direct cash relief that was included in the American Rescue Plan. We know firsthand how this money helped families make ends meet by covering essential costs like childcare, housing, and food. In the face of federal inaction, our state’s leaders must put in place similar provisions. We remain committed to helping New Yorkers recover from this pandemic and live out their version of the American Dream—but we can’t do it alone.” said Jasmine Palmer, Senior Director of Social Work at Educational Alliance’s Family Resource Center.

“The pandemic caused so much uncertainty and anxiety in the lives of families and the federal Child Tax Credit brought a much-needed sense of security. As a mom, feeling secure and safe is my main goal; if I’m safe so is my daughter. If New York State does the right thing and provides this type of support to families then we can focus on all the other things we need to be great parents. Every parent deserves that chance to be their best self for their children, and these types of provisions can help do that for so many of us,” said Newliz Hernandez, Educational Alliance community member.

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