(The last in a series on the lack of child care in Columbia County)
GHENT—New York State has barely half as many early child care slots as demand would require, with the gap in rural areas exceeding that in urban ones, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. The infant and toddler child care crisis in particular is estimated to cost the state $9.8 billion every year, according to the Council for a Strong America. Compared to other developed nations, the U.S. is ranked 40th (of 41) in its childcare policies and practices, according to UNICEF.
What should we do to address the issue?
At the hearing before the State Senate Standing Committee on Children and Families mentioned in prior articles, the same suggestions were repeatedly put forward: (1) increase wages for child care workers, many of whom currently earn poverty-level wages; (2) raise the income eligibility level for subsidies available to families, so that two-wage earner families may be eligible; (3) create an online and simplified enrollment process to obtain subsidies, because a significant number of eligible families do not apply for the current subsidies due to the cumbersome process; (4) create a universal child care system for all families regardless of income or immigration status.
In her proposed fiscal year 2024 budget Governor Hochul has put forward a number of actions intended to address the childcare crisis. These include a tax credit to businesses for the creation and expansion of child care slots; raising the income level for subsidies to the maximum allowed by federal law; putting the application process for subsidies online, and directing unspent federal funds to provide $389 million in bonuses for child care workers and recruitment assistance for child care providers. Read more…