Women's Caucus Press Conference 2017; photo by Jessica Klos Shapiro, Early Care & Learning Council
The Empire State Campaign for Child Care (ESCCC) was founded in the wake of threats to cut up to $27M from the New York State child care subsidy program during the 2017 state budget negotiations. The bipartisan Legislative Women’s Caucus had joined with child care advocates to ask for a sorely needed $100 million increase in child care funding simply to maintain the number of existing providers and subsidized slots. The Governor responded with a proposal to cut subsidies by $27M, notwithstanding the state’s record high average cost of care and evidence that a large majority of families who qualified for subsidies did not receive them because of inadequate subsidy funds, leaving them unable to access quality care.
Together, legislators — led by leaders of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, the Women of Color Task Force of the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus, and the Assembly Task Force on Women — and advocates fought back. As a result, the final Budget contained subsidy funding cuts of only $7.43 million, reducing the Child Care Development Block Grant from $806M to $799M, and leaving an estimated 500- 900 children expected to be impacted across the state. Facilitated Enrollment (FE), a state-funded program designed to provide subsidies to families earning between 200-275% of the federal poverty level, was cut by $424K statewide. A significant increase was won for after-school programs and middle class families were able to benefit from a small expansion of the child care tax credit. But the subsidy program, in particular, took a hard hit, and other critical issues impacting the child care system were ignored.
The budget battle illustrated that many of our legislative leaders are unconcerned about the significant challenges child care providers and working families in ensuring that all of our children can access the quality care that they need and deserve. It also show that many leaders do not understand the critical role the child care system plays in our local and state economies.
In July, 2017, representatives of 50 organizations came together to share concerns and ideas. Together, we envisioned the creation of a statewide, powerful grassroots movement with the capacity to educate and motivate our elected leaders to increase New York’s investment in child care so that all New York families can access safe, supportive, quality child care so that parents can work and children thrive. In October 2017, we became the Empire State Campaign for Child Care.