Gov. Hochul, Sen. Gillibrand want N.Y. families to know about available child care assistance | Top Story


ALBANY — Gov. Hochul is getting the word out that there is help available for families struggling with the cost of child care.

The governor, joined by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), announced the launch of a statewide multi-media campaign to educate eligible families about expansions made to child care assistance.

“We’re going to target social media, radio, highway billboards, bus posters, going to nail salons, barber shops, wherever everybody wants to hang out, take a sign, we’ll get the information out there,” Hochul said during a Manhattan press conference, noting that the campaign will target Hispanic and African American communities.

“Let’s just get the information into the communities so they understand very simply how to make sure that they can secure this assistance,” she added.

Eligibility for child care assistance was expanded earlier this month to include families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level, up from 200%.

The governor’s office believes the expansion means the families of an estimated 394,000 young children throughout the state are now eligible for additional subsidies.

Under the change, a family of four earning up to $83,250 is now eligible for child care assistance. Previously, the threshold was $55,500 or less.

Like the subsidies, the new ad push will be funded through federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act.

“The shortage of affordable child care in our state is nothing short of a crisis,” Gillibrand said. “We have to do more to support our families and our child care workers.

“This expanded funding will help parents across our state return to work with the knowledge that their children are in good hands while giving child care workers the resources they need to be successful,” she added.

The subsidies, administered through the Office of Children and Family Services, were negotiated with the Legislature and included in the budget as part of a roughly $7 billion investment in child care in the wake of the COVID crisis.

The pandemic made problems worse for already struggling child care centers across the state and costs have soared for working parents. The $7 billion will be used further to expand access to subsidies over the next four years.

Some lawmakers, led by Sen. Jessica Ramos (D- Queens), are hoping to continue a statewide push for universal child care in the next year’s legislative session.

“I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as someone else’s child, our responsibility truly is to provide a safe haven for every child at any point that they need it,” Ramos told the Daily News recently. “This is about keeping children safe.”

Hochul also announced Tuesday that the state is expanding eligibility for a second round of federally-funded Child Care Provider Stabilization grants.

All school-age child care programs and more than 900 providers licensed by the start of the year are eligible for the grants.

In this year’s state budget, $343 million was allocated for the stabilization grants, with 75% of the funding dedicated to workforce supports. The grants can be used to provide wage increases, bonuses, tuition reimbursement and contributions to staff retirement plans and health insurance costs.

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