BY KYLE HUGHES, NYSNYS NEWS
ALBANY, N.Y. >> Female state lawmakers urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint a state child care task force Wednesday, citing the recent budget that resulted in reduced funding for daycare subsidies.
The Legislative Women’s Caucus said child care is underfunded by the state’s new $163 billion budget, with just 17 percent of eligible children getting a subsidized child care placement. The budget ended up cutting $7 million in child care subsidies and $2.5 million from the Advantage Afterschool program based in public schools, the group said.
The $7 million cut translated to 900 fewer slots for state subsidized child care. The childcare money became wrapped up in a dispute between Cuomo and legislators over allocating discretionary funds for senior centers in New York City and adult protective services upstate.
“Something clearly needs to be done,” said caucus chair Donna Lupardo, D-Binghamton. “The LWC looks forward to providing input into the makeup of the task force whose recommendations should factor into next year’s budget discussions.”
“We’re calling on the governor to put together a task force for childcare for the 21st century,” said Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-Hudson. “The traditional approach to childcare is rooted in the 20th century sensibilities. We need services ... for the 21st century, not the way we’ve always done it before — the same old, same old.”
She said work and time demands on families are different, and Cuomo and the Legislature need to step up to address that change with more funding for services.
“It’s an economic issue,” said Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston Lake. “It’s an issue that speaks to the health of our communities.”
Walsh said the 2017-18 budget “drastically cut funding for both the state’s foster care bloc grant and childcare subsidies for families living below the poverty line, flying in the face of the governor’s promises to provide childcare resources to our families who need it most. This failure to address the needs of our citizens is unacceptable.”
The caucus is composed of the 58 women now serving in the Senate and Assembly, where men hold 155 of the seats.
The vote on child care subsidies was part of a final budget deal agreed to by Cuomo and the leaders of the Senate and Assembly.
Cuomo’s press office said the governor would review the task force proposal, saying the agreed-up budget “doubled the child care tax credit for working and middle class families and increased afterschool programs.”