New York State Budget Cuts to Child Care Funding Will Have Devastating Consequences for Children, Working Parents and LI Businesses
BY CAMILLE S. KOOREY, PATCH CONTRIBUTER
A $163 billion New York State budget agreement was reached on Saturday, April 8, 2017, which included a $7 million reduction in funding for child care. This comes after several years of stagnant funding for child care. "We are extremely disappointed that our state will cut funding for child care when 83 percent of eligible children in New York State already are unable to be served," stated Janet Walerstein, executive director, Child Care Council of Suffolk.
The funding cut will have devastating consequences in Suffolk County. The county already has one of the lowest eligibility levels in New York State due to funding shortfalls. Working families must earn below $30,375 for a family of four (125 percent of poverty) in order to qualify for child care assistance in Suffolk County. This reduction in state funding will lower that eligibility even further. "This is highly unrealistic particularly in such a high cost county," stated Walerstein. "In fact, FindTheBest.com recently ranked Suffolk and Nassau Counties as the most expensive places to live in the country when housing prices, taxes, health care, child care, transportation and other necessities are factored in."
Affordable, quality child care is critical to the economic health of Long Island's working families. Child care subsidies are intended to help working families pay for the high cost of child care; the families all pay a portion of the cost as well. "In addition, child care is an $800 million industry employing almost 9,000 people on Long Island," Walerstein said. "This money stays on Long Island and generates an almost two-to-one return on investment."
Unfortunately, the shrinking availability of child care subsidies coupled with the rising costs of child care are squeezing many working families out of the regulated child care system. "Without adequate child care, many parents will not be able to continue in the workforce," Walerstein stated. "This is damaging to our economy in both the short- and long-term as well as detrimental to the well-being of Long Island's working families, their children and our business community."
Child Care Council of Suffolk, Inc. is the not-for-profit planning and coordinating agency dedicated to making child care work for all Suffolk County's diverse communities. Through advocacy, education, and resource and referral, the Council takes a leadership role in supporting children, families, providers, employers and the public to ensure that quality child care takes its place as an integral part of society.