Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul visited the Downtown Ithaca Children’s Center (DICC) to meet with local child care providers and discuss the need for critical support for the child care industry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half of all child care providers have had to shut their doors and the industry faces a potential loss of more than 4 million child care slots, which would leave millions of families without access to essential child care services when normal work and life schedules resume. Now, with communities across the state reopening, providers are struggling to implement unclear CDC guidelines.
To support the child care industry through these challenges, Senator Gillibrand, alongside Congressman Joe Morelle, sent a letter to the CDC calling on the organization to work directly with child care stakeholders to inform and implement critical guidance that will keep children, staff, and families safe. Additionally, as the Senate negotiates the next coronavirus relief package, Gillibrand is urging Congress to invest $50 billion in federal funding to stabilize child care providers as they work to safely reopen.
“Our nation was facing a child care crisis even before the pandemic hit – many working families lived in child care deserts, including in Tompkins County which only had enough child care slots for a third of preschoolers. Meanwhile, those who did have access to child care often struggled to afford it,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Now families and providers are facing unprecedented instability and uncertainty. Child care providers are critical to our economy and we can’t let them face these challenges alone. To get parents back to work and care centers open, the CDC must provide clear, practical guidance and Congress must provide funding to give providers the resources needed to comply with public health guidance and keep everyone safe. These resources are essential to weather this crisis and to lay the foundation for our recovery.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial, social, and gender-based inequalities that already existed in our society. Nowhere is that more present than with the child care crisis that we have struggled with for far too long,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “To get our economy back firing on all cylinders, the stress and cost of the child care burden on families and providers must be addressed. It is no longer an individual family’s problem, it’s a problem for our economic recovery, and it’s finally part of the national conversation. In New York, we have increased funding, expanded services and supported families and child care workers during this crisis and beyond. I thank Sen. Gillibrand for joining us in our efforts to fight for more federal funding and support and help to ensure a plan for expanding access to child care in our state and the country in the future.”
“Finding accessible, affordable, high-quality childcare has been a challenge for families across America even in the best of times—and now, COVID-19 has made it even harder,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “As our communities continue to re-open, we must take action to support childcare providers and ensure parents have safe, reliable care for their children. I’m proud to partner with Senator Gillibrand as we fight to strengthen our childcare community and uplift families during these uncertain times.”
“Child care was in crisis before the pandemic and now costs are rising for supplies and health and safety monitoring. We can’t let child care falter anymore. We applaud efforts to stabilize child care now, because without it we will face closures, loss of care for our workforce, and even higher costs to rebuild so that our economy can rebound,” said Sue Dale- Hall, CEO Child Development Council.
As New York enters Phase 4, many businesses are reopening and parents are preparing to go back to work. However, with schools operating on part time or remote learning schedules, many parents are scrambling to find care for their students and children aged 0 to 4. The coronavirus outbreak has decimated the child care industry and left many parents without options for daytime care. Providers able to maintain operations have been burdened by confusing CDC guidelines that were developed without input from the child care community and often conflict with state or local guidance. Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Joe Morelle are leading a bicameral letter to the CDC expressing concerns over the unclear safety protocols for child care providers. To ensure they have the clear guidelines needed to reopen and operate safely, Gillibrand and Morelle are urging the CDC to work directly with state and local providers to resolve disparities between CDC guidelines and state guidelines; offer additional information about how the use of safety protocols like face shields and social distancing will impact interaction with the children; and make informed recommendations for alternating days, half days or other reduced schedules. Full text of the letter can be found here.
Additionally, Gillibrand is renewing her call to create a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund, through the Child Care is Essential Act. The fund would provide grant funding to child care providers to stabilize the child care sector and support providers as they safely reopen and operate. Despite the $3.5 billion in funding included in the CARES Act for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to provide child care for frontline health care workers and other essential employees, recent estimates show that it would take at least $9.6 billion per month to keep current child care providers in business and ensure that providers who closed due to the pandemic are able to safely reopen. The Child Care Stabilization Fund would provide grants to child care providers through the CCDBG. Grants would be available to licensed, regulated, or registered child care providers currently open or temporarily closed due to COVID-19. The funding could be used for operating expenses, staff pay, tuition relief for families, and ensuring providers have the resources needed to comply with public health guidance.