Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul visited Child Care Solutions in Syracuse 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 JoeMorelle, 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, including those in Onondaga County, lived in child care deserts, and 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.”
“Access to affordable regulated child care is essential as a safe place for young children to learn and grow while their parents return to work. Our country’s child care system was already fragile prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was insufficient supply in many communities; cost was prohibitive for many families; and most child care businesses were operating on very thin margins. All of these problems were intensified during the pandemic. The Child Care is Essential Act will provide crucial funding to assist regulated child care businesses to re-organize, revitalize or re-open in a way that keeps children and caregivers healthy. Without this financial support, many more child care programs will be forced to close, leaving parents with even fewer options for safe child care,” said Lori A. Schakow, Executive Director of Child Care Solutions.
“Safe, affordable and reliable child care is critical to our economy as it is often noted as a leading barrier for working families, something made even more significant in the wake of COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis,” said Robert Simpson, President of CenterState CEO. “The Child Care Is Essential Act is a critical piece of legislation that recognizes the importance of the child care sector, and provides much needed resources to providers to operate safely under new guidelines. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for recognizing how important child care is for working families, and supporting efforts to enable these businesses to return to full operations and drive the recovery our community needs.”
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. By the end of May, nearly half of the 102 child care providers in Onondaga and Cayuga Counties were forced to close. Those 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, to address the child care crisis exacerbated by coronavirus, 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 childcare for frontline healthcare 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.