Press Release

After Report Reveals Nationwide Child Care Crisis, Gillibrand Visits Valhalla To Announce Legislation To Help Expand Access To Child Care Services For Student Parents In New York And Across The Country

Feb 18, 2020

Valhalla, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today visited Virginia Marx Children’s Center at Westchester 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 Westchester 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.”

“In many states, the cost of child care can exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition, forcing many parents to choose between paying for child care and leaving the workforce altogether. For parents that are also students, this hardship can be especially challenging. We need to pass legislation like the PROSPECT Act, which would expand high-quality child care services at no cost to low-income student-parents enrolled in community colleges. It’s up to us to tackle the child care affordability crisis. I thank my colleague Senator Gillibrand for her tireless work on this issue in the Senate,” said Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16).  

“Community colleges enroll students with diverse backgrounds, including those who balance the demands of work and family with earning a college degree or certificate. For these student-parents, access to affordable, high quality childcare helps them focus on succeeding in their new academic and career pathways. Westchester Community College is proud of its award-winning Virginia Marx Childcare Center, where children participate in engaging and developmentally-appropriate activities while their parents are achieving their dreams of a college education,” said Dr. Belinda S. Miles, President, Westchester Community College.

“The PROSPECT Act is an answer to some very serious challenges: How do we help more of our youngest children get off to the best possible start in life? How do we better prepare students for the good jobs that we want to grow in our community? How do we provide effective support to the child care profession itself, particularly for those caring for infants and toddlers? The PROSPECT Act delivers more equitable access to quality child care and enables student parents to truly prepare themselves for an increasingly competitive workforce; it also recognizes the fundamental importance of the child care industry to our economic well-being, by bringing new resources to the profession. We thank Senator Gillibrand for her long-time leadership on child care and for this inspirational bill,” said Kathy Halas, Executive Director, Child Care Council of Westchester.

“The Business Council of Westchester Foundation has been working with the Child Care Council of Westchester to engage the business community to understand how important it is that Westchester County focus on having safe, affordable and sustainable child care facilities for employees to access. It is a known fact that child care issues is one of the major issues that employees face. Not securing child care has an impact on their daily lives and has an impact on their job performance. If employers are more engaged in this issue it helps them with recruitment and retention. Last year we held a Child Care Awareness program so that BCW members could have important information ton how their employees can identify safe child care facilities for their children. We are also working to engage developers and property openers to see if they would create new child care facilities in both existing buildings and new buildings. We are pleased to support Senator Gillibrand’s initiative and thank her for her leadership,” said Dr. Marsha Gordon, President and CEO, The Business Council of Westchester.

According to the Child Care Council of Westchester, working parents and students in Westchester have trouble finding reliable, affordable, high-quality child care services. In Westchester County, the average, annual cost of center-based care for an infant is $21,000. The Child Care Council of Westchester also found that lack of access to child care services affects parents’ employment. About 60% of parents in Westchester report that child care issues impact their work and 75% of employers report that child care issues result in absenteeism and productivity loss. Currently, the Virginia Marx Children’s Center serves 76 children and has a waitlist for open spots starting in January 2021.

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.