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CNY Officials Rally for Childcare Day of Action

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John Smith
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WAER News

One of the areas of our economy that’s struggling could have ripples throughout many other business sectors if there isn’t state or federal support to keep it from faltering.  Central New York elected officials Thursday rallied around childcare centers, calling for more aid from Albany and Washington, and for the release of assistance already approved.  They gathered during a state-wide Day of Action at Learn as You Grow in Cicero. Director Josh LaGrow points out the necessity they provide if people are going back to work.

“People are looking at this and saying, ‘I need to get back to work. I haven’t had a paycheck in a while, I haven’t had a job in a while, how can I go back to work and do childcare at the same time?’,” LaGrow said. “You need a place for your children to go during the day, the districts are going to need a place for your children to go during the day if schools shut down or if their district is a hybrid model. We provide that.”

State Senator Rachel May agrees and calls childcare the underpinning of just about all other businesses.  She also says they’re important employers themselves.  And preserving the jobs at the state’s more than 15,000 centers helps an often-struggling group in our economy.

“Most of them are run by Black and brown women, which is a population that has been particularly affected by every economic downturn we’ve ever had,” May said.

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Credit John Smith / WAER News
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WAER News
Activists and local politicians gathered at Learn as You Grow, a childcare facility in Cicero. Attendance was limited and attendees were socially distanced from one another.

Not to mention, she adds, how the health crisis of the pandemic has hit people of color. May is further concerned about the long-term impacts that could be coming to the industry and by extension many other businesses.

“A recent survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that half of the nation’s childcare centers may close by December. What is already feeling like a catastrophe would be just that much more unsupportable. So, this is one way that the state can step in and make sure that childcare providers stay in business.”

Steve Gorzynski of M&T Bank even says it’s hurting the rebound of his business.  They can’t recruit employees when there isn’t child care for the workers’ children.  May and Assembly Member Al Stirpe would like to see the state invest in child care.  Subsidies for families and grants for centers could be included in new a federal stimulus plan, which has been stalled as Congress is on recess.