Assemblymember Lunsford Introduces Three Childcare Assistance Bills

Assemblymember Jen Lunsford (D-Perinton) announced that she introduced new bills that would make quality childcare more affordable for working families.

“As a working mom, I understand firsthand the soaring costs of childcare and how the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated both the need for these services and the financial strain on families,” said Lunsford. “This legislation will help alleviate some of this burden on working families so they can focus on keeping their kids healthy and safe. I’ll continue fighting to make quality childcare as affordable as possible for Monroe County families.”

One of Lunsford’s bills increases the maximum amount of childcare costs subject to the child and dependent care tax credit. (A.5010) As the costs of childcare continue to increase, many families are facing the question of whether it’s better in the short-term for one parent to abandon their career and stay home to care for the children or other dependents. This bill takes into account the increasing costs of child and dependent care, bringing the state tax credit in line with these rising costs, noted Lunsford.

 Families receiving childcare subsidies must contribute to the cost of childcare, calculated as a percentage of the family’s income above the federal poverty level. Currently, this percentage varies by county and is typically anywhere between 10% and 35%. This cost-sharing requirement is often a deciding factor for whether a family can afford childcare, even with a subsidy. The current system places a greater burden on low-income families and often prevent them from accessing childcare. To combat this issue, Lunsford has put forth a bill to standardize childcare subsidies (A.5012). “This bill not only makes childcare more affordable for our low-income families,” says Lunsford, “but it also standardizes co-pays across counties to ensure equity.”

Finally, Lunsford also introduced a bill to provide financial support to childcare providers by requiring local social services departments pay for a least six absences per child per month (A.5017). Local social services districts can opt to withhold a portion of subsidy reimbursement from a provider for days in which a child is absent from care. Though state regulations allow up to 12 absent days for each child per month, most counties do not pay providers when children do not attend. This creates fiscal uncertainty for many providers and often contributes to difficulty with staff retention and the ability to provide quality care, noted Lunsford.