By Tracie Isaac
“Childcare is economic development. Childcare is infrastructure. We must push for historic investments in our children and families this year,” Senator Samra Brouk says.
In response to Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget, the State Senate and Assembly have created their own budget proposals calling for increased Childcare Funding.
The Senate and Assembly are recommending investing nearly three billion dollars into New York’s childcare system. How to fund the investment is presented differently but both the Senate and Assembly advocate strongly and say they are committed to working toward Universal Childcare.
To highlight the importance of this funding Brouk and Assemblymember Sarah Clark participated in an event on March 24th to discuss their advocacy for the increased funding. The elected officials were joined by parents, childcare providers, advocates, and legislators.
Brouk and Clark says that addressing childcare will help lift families out of poverty, and provide a resource for parents to re-enter the workforce and expand the available talent pool for employers seeking to fill open jobs.
“We know that access to quality, affordable childcare can make or break a family’s potential toward reaching their financial goals,” Brouk said. “These historic investments will help lift children and families out of poverty and will allow parents to reenter the workforce without spending the majority of their paycheck on childcare.
“As parents, there are so many things we have to navigate, and a little help can go a long way,” said one local parent Danielle Jones. “When my son was born, I looked for assistance with childcare and was told I make too much money. But I was just barely making it, even though I was working full-time. There’s a difference between the cost of living and the cost of surviving. We need to invest in children and families so they can do more than merely survive.”
Additionally, Brouk and Clark say the childcare industry would have additional resources and be encouraged to pay more competitive wages and create new jobs to address an increase in childcare services.
“Childcare isn’t just about having a place for her (my daughter) to go while I work. It’s about giving her the best early education possible. But it is a struggle, especially as a single parent, to afford quality childcare,” stated Rochester father Dan Blumerick.
Ann Marie Stephan, Executive Director of Rochester Childfirst Network says the traditional system of support for childcare doesn’t work.
“Too many children are left behind socially, emotionally and economically. Too few are graduating from high school, ready for work or college. But that’s changing for the better in New York State, thanks to Assembly Member Clark and Senator Brouk. The work they are doing will provide the investments that our children and families deserve.”
“We appreciate that business leaders and elected officials understand the necessity of investing in childcare. As leadership in Albany reconciles the different proposals from the Governor, Assembly, and State Senate, we remind them that families don’t need tinkering around the edges of this system. We need – and we have every right to expect – a path toward universal, affordable, high quality childcare for all New York children, without exception, nurtured by a childcare workforce that is fairly and justly compensated,” said Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda.