August 07, 2020

In Ogdensburg, Gillibrand Urges Congress To Stabilize Child Care Industry

Child Care Providers Have Expressed Concerns Over CDC Guidelines To Safely Reopen And Are Struggling To Operate With Reduced Capacity And Increased Operating Costs; Gillibrand Urges Congress To Establish $50 Billion Child Care Stabilization Fund To Support Providers Struggling To Stay Open With Limited Revenue Due To COVID-19 Crisis

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand met with local child care providers in Ogdensburg to 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. 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 urged the CDC to work directly with state and local health departments and child care stakeholders to inform and implement critical guidance that will keep children, staff, and families safe. Gillibrand also renewed her call for to invest $50 billion in federal funding to stabilize child care providers as they work to safely reopen.

“This pandemic has placed an unprecedented child care burden on families and providers -- we can't let them face these challenges alone,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Even before the pandemic hit our nation was facing a child care crisis with many working families, including in St. Lawrence county, living in child care deserts. Meanwhile, those who did have access to child care often struggled to afford it. Child care providers are critical to our economy and to help them reopen Congress must provide robust funding so that providers can 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.” 

“Child care must be acknowledged as an integral component for economic and workforce development. If families do not have quality affordable child care options, the North Country will never reach its full workforce or economic development potential,” said Bruce Stewart, Executive Director, St. Lawrence Child Care Council, Inc. “Although many have known this for years, the current COVID-19 crisis clearly shows that child care is essential infrastructure just like information technology, health care services and transportation during this critical time.” 

“Before the pandemic, child care was a key concern of families in Northern New York. Now, as we put the pieces of our economy back together, supporting providers is going to be critical to making sure families have options," said Assemblyman Mark Walczyk. 

The coronavirus outbreak has decimated the child care industry and left many parents without options for daytime care and, as New York enters Phase 4, many are scrambling to find care for their students and children aged 0 to 4 as they make plans to return to work. Senator Gillibrand is urging Congress to create a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund, through the Child Care is Essential Act to combat the growing child care crisis. 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. Grants through the Child Care Stabilization Fund 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. 

Additionally, child care providers trying to maintain operations have been burdened by confusing CDC guidelines developed without input from the child care community that often conflict with state or local guidance. To ensure providers have the clear guidelines needed to reopen and operate safely, Gillibrand recently called on the CDC to work directly with state and local health departments and child care stakeholders 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.