"The Assembly Majority has a long history of putting families first, making it all the more vital that we address New York's current child care crisis, a move that is desperately needed and long overdue," Speaker Silver said. "The measures we are passing today truly make New York's families a priority and place crucial investments in a sound future for our children. The work that we are putting forth today would not have been possible without the tireless work of the members of our Child Care Workgroup, and I thank them for their continued leadership and unwavering perserverance as the Assembly works to increase access to quality child care programs and services."
The Child Care Workgroup includes Assemblymembers Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Education Committee; Carl Heastie, Chair of the Labor Committee; Michele Titus, Chair of the Social Services Committee; Aileen Gunther, Chair of the Mental Health Committee; Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Children and Families Committee; and Addie Russell, Chair of the Commission on Rural Resources.
A comprehensive package of reforms and investments was developed from recommendations included in a December 2013 report released by the Child Care Workgroup, following extensive research, roundtables and discussions between Workgroup members, parents, child care professionals and advocates. In addition to the legislation included in the package, the Assembly will increase funding for child care by nearly $400 million over the next four years. This funding will increase the availability of child care slots for families up to 200% of the poverty level through an $11 million annual investment in child care subsidies. Additionally, a one-time investment of $11 million will enhance Facilitated Enrollment, a program that offers child care subsidies to working families earning up to 275% of the poverty level. This program also increases opportunities for families to access child care by expanding the number of accessible locations where they can apply for subsidized child care.The legislative measures include:
Assemblymember Carl Heastie said, "Unemployment benefits can often be a saving grace for parents during unfortunate periods of transition, especially when it comes to providing for the care of a child. The legislation I sponsored will support working families so that, in the event that they have to make the difficult choice to voluntarily leave their current employment due to child care obligations, their eligibility for unemployment benefits will remain secure."
Assemblymember Michele Titus said, "Supporting New York's working families is critical to the health of our state and the future of our children. By expanding the availability and affordability of quality child care options, the Assembly is providing parents with the knowledge that they can go to work without having to worry that the development and care of their children is being sacrificed at the sake of cost or convenience."
Assemblymember Aileen Gunther said, "Providing the resources to properly train and prepare providers to care for and nurture our children is fundamental to improving the child care system in New York. Improved training programs, bolstering credentialing services, and providing higher education opportunities, coupled with reducing onerous regulatory requirements on child care providers ensures that the focus is on enriching the lives and learning experiences of our children and helping them to thrive."
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, "Strengthening and improving access to early learning programs requires the coordination of multiple parties, including the business community, in order to succeed. The Early Learning Council (ELC) would help secure public and private investment in early learning in order to help children get the positive start they deserve."
Assemblywoman Addie Russell said, "The high cost of child care places an enormous financial burden on parents that are already struggling to make ends meet, ultimately prohibiting many of them from working at all. In order for these families to survive, the parents must work, making child care an absolute necessity. Enhancing the state's child care subsidy program will help working families by putting affordable, quality child care within their reach and help local childcare providers grow their businesses."
Over the past several months, the Assembly Child Care Workgroup worked alongside a number of advocates to compile this package.
Deborah King, chair of the New York Union Child Care Coalition, said, "Child care costs in New York State rank amongst the highest in the United States. Real economic development will remain an unreachable goal unless we support and provide a foundation for our working families through assistance with the cost of care, increased availability of quality, accessible child care and other initiatives such as Paid Family Leave Insurance. We applaud the New York State Assembly and the Assembly Child Care Work Group for their leadership and vision in advancing these crucial issues."
UFT President Michael Mulgrew, said, "These proposals are a win for families across New York City. In addition to expanding access to a valuable service, these bills will knock down many of the barriers that stand in the way of families getting the child care they need."
Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO said, "Child care and paid family leave insurance are not family issues alone; they're also critical to workforce and economic development. We commend Speaker Silver and the members of the Assembly's Workgroup on Child Care for their leadership in developing and advancing legislation that will strengthen our families, communities and local economies. When we invest in hardworking New Yorkers, we make our state an even better and more attractive place to work, live and raise a family."
Stephanie Gendell, associate executive director for Policy and Government Relations, Citizens' Committee for Children said, "Citizens' Committee for Children is grateful for the Assembly's leadership and commitment to expanding access to high-quality child care in New York. Families depend on child care to be able to work and children need high quality programs to thrive-making the Assembly a win-win proposal for children, families and communities."
Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, Executive Director of the New York State Afterschool Network, said, "Today the Assembly has put forward a comprehensive approach to improving child care, including school-age child care, across New York. The New York State Afterschool Network appreciates the work of the members of the Assembly Child Care Workgroup and the rest of the Assembly to strengthen and streamline vital child care and afterschool services for New York's children and families."
Jasmine Gripper, Early Childhood Coordinator & Statewide Education Advocate at the Alliance for Quality Education, said, "The New York State Assembly and Speaker Silver have a long history of supporting high quality childcare and early learning programs. Investments in these initiatives is of vital importance to children and their families. By addressing the needs of children, parents and providers we can create a comprehensive system that benefits the entire community."
Susan Antos, Senior Attorney with the Empire Justice Center, said, "The Empire Justice Center applauds Assembly Speaker Silver, Children and Families Chair Donna Lupardo, members of the Assembly Child Care Work Group, and the Assembly Majority as a whole, for taking these important steps to strengthen New York's child care system. These bills will go a long way toward making child care affordable regardless of the county in which a child resides, assuring that eligibility rules are equitable across the state, and that parents are afforded the opportunity to bond with their children, without fear of financial hardship."
Kyle Stewart, Executive Director at the Alliance of New York State YMCA's, said, "The Alliance of New York State YMCAs appreciates Speaker Silver's efforts to make improvements and increase efficiencies in child care that will provide New York's families with greater access to care. At the Y, we provide high quality child care and after school programs to thousands of families across the Empire State. The Speaker's dedication to enhancing the child care system in New York will afford us the opportunity to favorably impact even more children's lives while supporting their families."
David Voegele, Early Care & Learning Council Executive Director, said, "The Early Care & Learning Council thanks Speaker Silver and the Assembly Child Care Workgroup for addressing the various access and quality issues affecting child care throughout New York State. In practice, the concepts put forth in this package of legislation will go far to mitigate many of the problems families and child care providers currently face and allow for the healthy development of all children in all child care settings. The mission of the Early Care & Learning Council is to promote excellence in early care and education with equal access for all families through a strong network of community-based organizations that provide Child Care Resource and Referral services. As this legislation furthers this goal, the Early Care & Learning Council supports and applauds the Assembly's efforts."
Kate Breslin, President and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, said, "The initiatives put forth by the Speaker move New York State toward a more fair, well-organized, statewide child care system, a crucial support for working families. As the economy recovers and more resources are available, we urge the Legislature and Governor to ensure that low-income kids and families who need affordable and high-quality child care don't get forgotten again this year."
Jenn O'Connor, New York State Director, Council for a Strong America, said, "We thank the Assembly for a package of bills which demonstrates its understanding that quality early learning plays a critical role in child development as well as in New York State's economy. High quality child care is an important economic development tool - for every $1.00 invested in high quality early learning, $1.86 is generated in goods and services in New York - that's more than manufacturing, construction or retail. We support improving infrastructure and increasing access as both a child development and economic development strategy."
CSEA President Danny Donohue said, "The Assembly majority has long recognized that accessible and affordable child care is directly connected to healthy families, strong communities and, just as importantly, our state's economic growth. Speaker Silver and members of the Democratic Conference have consistently backed their words with action and New Yorkers are better for it."
Donna Lieberman, New York Civil Liberties Union, said, "Family leave insurance will provide essential support for the working families of New York -- particularly for the women who typically bear the largest burden for taking care of young children-- and for our children whose health and well-being depend on parental support."