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Citizen Action of New York Amplifies Growing Calls of State, Federal Aid to Boost Childcare Industry

Citizen Action New York

Citizen Action of New York is rallying behind struggling childcare providers and working parents and guardians that are dealing with the economic hardships the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.  They along with state lawmakers are asking Governor Cuomo to release the state’s share of federal funding and requesting additional funding from Washington as they all struggle to pay their bills. 

CSEA Voice Local 100 President, Pam Wells has also served as a childcare provider for more than 25 years. 

“The cost of care has surged due to the need of social distancing, protective gear, cost of operating, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, food, minimum wage increase and additional expense for our staff.  Many of us have utilized our savings and credit cards to remain open for our communities while we build back to our pre-COVID enrollment.  We need help."

One of the largest long-term care providers for the aging and elderly is Loretto of CNY.  President and CEO Kim Townsend says most of her employees who rely of public transportation didn't have schedules that aligned with free childcare offered by Onondaga County when the pandemic hit.

“78 percent of our employees report that they use in-home childcare providers.  Frequently they rely on family members because that’s what   their childcare subsidies support."

Townsend says if there's not enough support for childcare, her employees will continue to face barriers to advance in their careers.  Loretto considered the possibility of providing childcare but, found it wasn't cost effective.  Sharlene Phillips is a long-time childcare worker and a mother of 3 young children who she says benefit a great deal from childcare… but, it’s a struggle for her and her husband.

“And paying the family co-pay is still like paying a mortgage payment, if you really want to put it in numbers that we maintain each month but, then we lose out on special vacations.  Wouldn’t you like to go to a special restaurant?  Wouldn’t you like to buy your kids things and it not be special occasion like a birthday or Christmas?”

There are calls for the Governor to use federal funds to lower child care co-pays for parents to as low as only 10 percent.  Governor Cuomo's Childcare Availability Task Force is expected to release its recommendations soon about ways to improve access to childcare and ensure fair wages to childcare educators.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.