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Funding Measures Sought to Help Lower Child Care Costs in Monroe County

Staff report

NY-25th Dist. Rep. Joe Morelle (photo courtesy of Congressional website)

Joe Morelle announced he has secured funding to lower the cost of childcare for Monroe County families.

Morelle’s announcement came on Dec. 16, 2020 and noted that legislative provisions were passed as part of the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), and are expected to expand federal cost assistance through Child Care Development Block Grants.

According to Morelle’s sources, the average annual cost of a childcare center in New York is $12,361. Under the new BBBA law, a family of four making $68,000 is anticipated to pay no more than $1,360 annually. Under the legislation, subsidized childcare will be available for families of children age 5 and younger who are not enrolled in kindergarten. Parents must be working or participating in work-related activities such as job training to qualify.

“Right now, New Yorkers are paying over twenty-three percent of their income on childcare costs [and] that places an enormous financial and emotional burden on parents, and it must change,” Morelle said. “Supporting the needs of working families has always been my top priority, which is why I’m proud to have taken action to significantly lower costs and save families upwards of $10,000 a year on childcare. This will be transformative for Monroe County families and will help set our children up for success from an early age.”

Following are some examples of how the BBBA would potentially lower child care costs for local families, provided by Morelle’s office:

  • Families earning above 75 percent and not more than 100 percent of the State Median Income [SMI] (between $51,000 and $68,000) will have a copayment of more than 0 percent and not more than 2 percent of their family income. (Ex: Family making $68,000 would pay no more than $1,360 on childcare)
  • Families earning above 100 percent and not more than 125 percent SMI (between $68,000 and $85,000) will have a copayment of more than 2 percent and not more than 4 percent of their family income. (Ex: Family making $85,000 would pay no more than $3,400 on childcare)
  • Families earning above 125 percent and not more than 150 percent SMI (between $85,000 and $102,000) will have a copayment of more than 4 percent and not more than 7 percent of their family income. (Ex: Family making $100,000 would pay no more than $7,000 on childcare)
  • Families earning above 150 percent and not more than 250 (between $102,000 and $170,000) percent SMI will have a copayment of no more than 7 percent of their family income.

The BBBA child care benefit amount for families would be sufficient to purchase care in an accredited childcare facility. If a state can cover the required populations more quickly, it may use payments in the first three years to expand access to direct services that go beyond the income eligibility phase-in thresholds, but do not exceed 250 percent SMI or $170,000 in New York State.

“This is a welcomed relief for families, and organizations like us, that are committed to providing this critical community service,”said George Romell, President and Chief Executive Officer, YMCA of Greater Rochester. “It strengthens our ability to support working families, and ultimately, provides a roadmap for children to succeed in life. We look forward to working with vital community partners to find 21st century solutions to deliver dynamic care and we are grateful to Congressman Morelle for his leadership on this initiative and longtime support of the Y.”

“Reducing the cost of high-quality childcare is a moral and necessary step towards economic and social justice,” said Jerome H. Underwood, President and Chief Executive Officer of Action for a Better Community, Inc. (ABC).” “Utilizing funding from the Build Back Better Act as a means to this end is one way to ensure that the unprecedent[ed] level of funding coming to Monroe County is allocated where it is most needed. We look forward to the day when affordable childcare is a priority item with sustainable funding. ABC fully supports lowering childcare costs for economically marginalized families as a viable path towards an inclusive recovery. With other community partners, we will continue to advocate for permanently affordable childcare.”

“As a single father with a daughter who is almost two years old, the passage of this act will have a huge impact on my family,” said Dan Blumerick, a local parent. “Daycare expenses are tremendously high and the cost to send Cassidy [to day care] full-time are higher than our housing costs, including mortgage and utilities. Often, I need to pay for daycare using credit cards and incur interest on the charges. Cassidy has thrived at daycare, showing tremendous social-emotional, cognitive and motor skill development. She is excited every day we go and her face lights up when we talk about daycare at home. We are incredibly grateful that Cassidy is able to have such a loving and nurturing environment to foster her growth.”

“If enacted into law, the childcare and pre-K provisions in the Build Back Better Act would provide much needed and long-awaited assistance for both families and childcare providers,” said Ann Marie Stephan, Executive Director of Rochester Childfirst Network. “As a local provider of childcare services, we often hear from families regarding the high cost of childcare. While existing subsidies help some families access childcare services, there are many who do not qualify, but still require financial assistance. The proposed changes in the Act would address the issue of more equitable access by providing affordable, high-quality childcare to eligible families, supporting them to either remain in or return to the workforce, which benefits our community.” “RCN extends our gratitude to Congressman Morelle and other local delegates for championing this bill,” Stephan said.