Garden City, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today visited The Children’s Greenhouse at Nassau Community College to announce legislation that would help expand access to high-quality child care services at no cost to student parents enrolled in community colleges and minority-serving institutions (MSIs). This comes after a report revealed that one in five college students are raising a child under the age of five while in school, and that many of these parents have trouble finding affordable and high-quality child care. The Preparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers Act (PROSPECT Act), would help address this by funding $9 billion in new grant programs to provide high-quality infant and toddler care at no cost to low-income parents attending community colleges and MSIs.
“Parents shouldn’t have to choose between getting a college degree and affording child care. However, many student parents have trouble finding and affording high-quality child care services, particularly for infants and toddlers,” said Senator Gillibrand. “That’s why I am pleased to announce the Preparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers Act. This bill would create $9 billion in new grant programs to increase access to child care for low-income student parents at minority-serving institutions and community colleges like Nassau Community College. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and I will keep fighting for the resources our student parents need to be successful.”
“Balancing a college course load is a tough enough challenge. Student parents shouldn’t have to choose between advancing their education and affording child care. Nassau County is a leader in higher education, and the PROSPECT Act will help provide our students, children, and educators with the resources they need to succeed. I thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership and commitment to supporting student-parents here in Nassau and across New York State,” said New York State Senator Kevin Thomas.
“Far too often, parents are forced to choose between advancing their career or education and staying home with their children because of lack of access to quality, affordable childcare. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for creating a path for parents to succeed by providing vital childcare resources for college students, supporting Nassau County’s ongoing efforts to remove childcare as a barrier to pursing higher education, employment or other opportunities,” said Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive.
“At Nassau Community College we are committed to providing an excellent education for all of our students, supporting them both inside and outside the classroom to insure they have the tools they need for a successful future. It is because of this commitment that we fully support the PROSPECT Act,” said Dr. Jermaine Williams, President, Nassau Community College. “For forty years The Children’s Greenhouse at Nassau Community College has provided cost-effective child care services for students and the PROSPECT Act will assure that more college students will have greater access to affordable and high-quality daycare, alleviating the financial pressure of paying for childcare and allowing our students to focus on their academic success. Our students, and all who can benefit from the exceptional educational experience at Nassau Community College, are our future and it is imperative that we provide them with the support they need to access college and succeed.”
Working parents and students in Nassau have trouble finding reliable, affordable, high-quality child care services. According to the Child Care Council of Nassau, Inc., the average, annual cost of child care for infants and toddlers in Nassau County is $15,936 and $13,884, respectively. The Children’s Greenhouse currently serves around 140 children, with 70% being children of student parents. The wait time for enrollment is approximately three months.
Specifically, the PROSPECT Act would do the following:
- Invest $9 billion over five years in three, new, competitive grant programs to
- Help community colleges and MSIs provide free, high-quality child care to up to 500,000 children under the age of three with a parent enrolled in the institution;
- Provide funding and technical support to infant and toddler care programs near community colleges and MSIs;
- Improve and increase the child care workforce by supporting early childhood education programs at these institutions to create a pipeline of infant and toddler care providers in the community;
- Expand the eligibility requirements for the Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) childcare subsidy to low-income parents enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education;
- Increase federal government and state investment in the CCDBG program by increasing the federal match rate for childcare services for infants and toddlers to 90 percent;
- Require institutions of higher education to share with students information on the Dependent Care Allowance, which can provide many student parents with an additional $3,000 in subsidized federal student loans per year.
The PROSPECT Act is sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-CT-5). The legislation is endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Child Care Aware NJ (CCANJ), Child Care Aware America, CLASP, New Jersey Coalition of Infant/Toddler Educators (CITE), Early Care & Learning Council, Education Reform Now – Advocacy, Generation Hope, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), National Black Child Development Institute, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC), Public Advocacy for Kids, UNCF, UnidosUS, and Zero to Three.
The full text of the legislation may be found here.