Gov. Kathy Hochul was with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Tuesday to send a message that the state will help take care of its children.
The lawmakers on Tuesday were hoping to get the word out that millions in child care assistance funding is now available for families and child care providers.
Hochul mentioned that only 12% of families are currently taking advantage of the help.
The program was previously open to families of four making $55,500 or less. The new eligibility requirements up the threshold to $83,250 or less. The program is part of a larger $7 billion investment from the state.
“We lift families in the state of New York by investing in their ability to take care of their families during this short time when they need it because we can not afford to lose them in the workplace and just because it’s the right thing to do,” Hochul said.
In her attempt to draw attention to the funding, Hochul lamented about her own struggles as a young, ambitious mother when she was a staffer for former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
“Had my career ahead of me and we were blessed with my son and all of a sudden realized, ‘who is going to watch the baby when I go back to work?’” Hochul, New York’s first female governor, said. “And realized back then that I would have to sacrifice the income, my ambition and try to figure it all out on my own.”
Gillibrand noted that the funding is going to serve as a critical financial boost for child care providers who have struggled to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials said that 900 new child care facilities have been licensed since the start of the year.
“This is direct money to the providers so they can stay in business. So they can offer more slots, offer more jobs to teachers, to early childhood educators. It allows them to expand facilities. It allows them to do whatever they need to get their childhood care center up and running,” Gillibrand said.
The lawmakers say a media campaign is soon to come that will include social media and bus advertisements.
Hochul said that officials will go as far as talking to New Yorkers in barber shops and salons to ensure parents and families are aware of the assistance. The lawmakers are hoping to particularly target Black and Latino communities and single parents who have been disproportionately affected by a loss in child care in the last few years.